The first biography of Rodrigo Duterte, the murderous, unpredictable president of the Philippines, whose war on drugs has seen thousands of people killed in cold blood.
Rodrigo Duterte was elected President of the Philippines in 2016. In his first 18 months in office, 12,000 people were murdered on the streets, gunned down by police officers and vigilante citizens — all with his encouragement.
Duterte is a serial womaniser and a self-confessed killer, who has called both Barack Obama and Pope Francis ‘sons of whores’. He is on record as saying he does not ‘give a shit’ about human rights. Yet he is beloved of the 16.6 million Filipinos who voted for him, seen as vulgar but honest, a breath of fresh air, and an iconoclastic, anti-imperialist rebel.
In this revelatory biography, Channel 4 News’ Asia Correspondent Jonathan Miller charts Duterte’s rise, and shows how this fascinating, fearsome man can be seen as the embodiment of populism in our time.
‘“Fire and fury” is the mentality of despots everywhere. Miller has terrifyingly captured that condition — bullying, threatening, vengeful, and lethal.’
Michael Wolff, author of Fire and Fury
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‘This book will piss off the powerful, which is why you should read it … With unflinching prose and the rigour of a veteran journalist, Jonathan Miller disrobes Rodrigo Duterte for all to see. Beyond the myths and propaganda of [Duterte’s] supporters, the Filipino politician is here paraded nakedly, with his contradicting good intentions that involve bloody violence, broken promises, and the brazen perpetuation of dynastic patronage politics that continue to dismantle Asia’s oldest free republic … This portrait presents a cautionary tale of the kind of authoritarian rulers that stand to hijack any democracy if we citizens do not participate in protecting it while we still can.’
Miguel Syjuco, author of Ilustrado
‘Miller's fast-paced, lively narrative helps explain how an electoral insurgency led by a charismatic populist … has put the Philippines on the road to authoritarian rule.’
Walden Bello, Professor of Sociology at the State University of New York and former Philippine Congressman (2009-15)
‘An invaluable portrait … it deftly weaves Duterte’s rise with the country’s history of living through dictatorship and nearly making it across the line where some degree of economic prosperity and political maturity was making a dent on social inequality and impunity — before being rudely and brutally thrown into the mass grave that it has turned into.’
Ruben Carranza, Director, Reparative Justice Program of the International Center for Transitional Justice
‘This story jumps out of the pages like a thriller. But it’s all true. Duterte Harry makes Trump look tame.’
’Jonathan Miller has lifted the lid on a viper’s nest. Duterte Harry is a terrifying insight into the abuse of democracy, and how we the people allow justice to die.’
Andrew O’Keefe AM, Seven Network
‘Rodrigo Duterte has been labelled by the US media “the Donald Trump of Asia” … Miller talks to relatives of murdered drug users and, in unsettling detail, tells of children as young as five being caught in the savage crossfire.’
Sunday Territorian, four stars
‘This book lays it all out in shocking colour.’
The Saturday Paper
‘[V]ivid … This is less a biography than an indictment, written in a terrific Manila-noir style that captures the sounds and smells of hot, humid nights with blood in the gutters, syrupy ballads on the radio, and wails of grief over ornate coffins.’
Michael Sheridan, The Sunday Times
‘This study of the foul-mouthed ‘gangster’ by a writer who’s lived in the country for yonks is a real eye-opener and a text book example of what can go wrong when limp or corrupt policies let a loon into the corridors of power.’
Jon Wise, Weekend Sport
‘Duterte Harry deftly guides readers through this warped political landscape to reveal the vulnerability of a tempestuous leader.’
‘This book is a history, but also a fable in a time of increasing authoritarian populism. It is a great read, crackling with moral outrage.’
‘Jonathan Miller, a correspondent for Channel 4 News, paints a shocking portrait in stark language of the man known as ‘Duterte Harry’ after Clint Eastwood’s uncompromising ‘Dirty Harry’ Callahan. The most striking aspect of Miller’s detailed biography, which draws on interviews with Duterte’s family and friends, is how proud many Filipinos are of their maligning and murderous chief executive.’
Times Literary Supplement
‘Duterte Harry: Fire and Fury in the Philippines captures the strongman leader in all his contradictions.’