Episode for February 17, 2022
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Ruth Ben-Ghiat is a historian and commentator on fascism, authoritarian leaders, and propaganda — and the threats these present to democracies.
Subscribe to her newsletter at Lucid.substack.com
As author or editor of seven books with over 100 op-eds and essays in media outlets including CNN, The New Yorker, and The Washington Post, she brings historical perspective to her analyses of current events. Her insight into the authoritarian playbook has made her an expert source for television, radio, podcasts, and online events around the globe.
Ben-Ghiat is Professor of History and Italian Studies at New York University and an Advisor to Protect Democracy. She is also a historical consultant for film and television productions. She is a big fan of electronic music, which is her preferred soundtrack while writing. She practices yoga several times a week.
Ben-Ghiat’s work has been supported by Fulbright, Guggenheim, and other fellowships. Her books Fascist Modernities and Italian Fascism’s Empire Cinema detail what happens to societies when authoritarian governments take hold, and explore the appeal of strongmen to collaborators and followers. Growing up in Pacific Palisades, California, where many intellectuals who fled Nazism resettled, sparked her interest in the subject.
With Strongmen: From Mussolini to the Present, which is now available she offers a blueprint for understanding and resisting authoritarianism.
Lauded as “hilarious, high risk, and an inspiration,” Ophira filmed her comedy special Inside Joke, when she was 8½ months pregnant. The show’s material revolves around how she told everyone that she was never going to have kids, and then unexpectedly found herself expecting at “an advanced maternal age.” Inside Joke can be found on Amazon and iTunes, along with her two other comedy albums, Bangs!and As Is.
She has appeared on Comedy Central, This Week at The Comedy Cellar, Kevin Hart’s LOL Network, HBO’s Girls, Gotham Live, The Late Late Show, The Today Show, and VH-1. The New York Times called her a skilled comedian and storyteller with “bleakly stylish” humor. She was also selected as one of New York Magazine‘s “Top 10 Comics that Funny People Find Funny,” and hailed by Forbes.com as one of the most engaging comics working today.
Ophira is a regular host and teller with The Moth and her stories have been featured on The Moth Radio Hour and in two of The Moth’s best-selling books, including the most recent New York Times Bestseller Occasional Magic: True Stories About Defying the Impossible.
Ophira’s first book, Screw Everyone: Sleeping My Way to Monogamyi s a comedic memoir about her experiments in the field as a single woman, traveling from futon to futon and flask-to-flask, gathering data, hoping to put it all together and build her own perfect mate.
She is also sought after as a brilliant interviewer and moderator, and has interviewed dozens of celebrities, writers, and actors.
Originally from Calgary, Alberta, Canada, Ophira graduated with a Cultural Anthropology and Theater degree from McGill University. She now lives in Brooklyn, NY where she is a fixture at New York City’s comedy clubs