An ex-US campaign advisor who has sat with the world’s dictators explains Donald Trump’s increasingly authoritarian tactics and the threat they pose to American democracy.
Donald Trump isn’t a despot. But he is increasingly acting like The Despot’s Apprentice, an understudy in authoritarian tactics that threaten to erode American democracy. Whether it’s attacking the press, threatening rule of law by firing those who investigate his alleged wrongdoings, or using nepotism to staff the White House, Donald Trump is borrowing tactics from the world’s dictators and despots. Trump’s fascination for the military, his obsession with his own cult of personality, and his deliberate campaign to blur the line between fact and falsehood are nothing new to the world of despots. But they are new to the United States. With each authoritarian tactic or tweet, Trump poses a unique threat to democratic government in the world’s most powerful democracy.
At the same time, Trump’s apprenticeship has serious consequences beyond the United States too. His bizarre adoration and idolisation of despotic strongmen ? from Russia’s Putin, to Turkey’s Erdogan, or to the Philippines’ Duterte ? has transformed American foreign policy into a powerful cheerleader for some of the world’s worst regimes.
The Despot’s Apprentice explores how Trump uniquely threatens democracy ? and how to save it from him.
‘The Despot’s Apprentice is morally righteous in the best sense of that word. Brian Klaas offers an erudite and persuasive plea to resist both budding and aspiring despots, both in the United States and around the world.’
Yascha Mounk, author of The People vs Democracy
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‘Thank goodness for Brian Klaas. At a moment of unprecedented political crisis for the United States, he’s one of the very few experts to offer a much-needed global perspective on the Trump phenomenon. Trump, he shows, is less an exception than part of an ominous global trend: disillusionment with democracy. A sharp-sighted and urgently needed book.’
Christian Caryl, editor of The Washington Post‘s ‘DemocracyPost’ blog
‘A thorough and thought-provoking primer on the threat to democracy posed by — and I can’t believe I’m saying this — the current president of the United States.’
David Litt, New York Times bestselling author of Thanks, Obama: My Hopey Changey White House Years
‘Donald Trump may not be a dictator (yet), but he sure would love to have the opportunity. With The Despot's Apprentice, Brian Klaas puts his extensive history researching authoritarian leaders to use to analyse how Trump undermines American democracy, giving readers valuable insights they will need to continue ’
Amanda Marcotte, senior writer for Salon
‘If you care about ... democracy, freedom of the press, the rule of law, and the future of your children and the planet — read this book!’
Arthur I. Blaustein, chairman of the National Advisory Council on Economic Opportunity under Jimmy Carter, board member of the National Endowment for the Humanities under Bill Clinton, author of Make a Difference, Democracy is Not a Spectator Sport, and The American Promise
‘With so many individual scandals, it’s easy to lose perspective of the Trump administration’s broad threat to our [the United States] Republic. In The Despot’s Apprentice, Brian Klaas takes on the herculean task of documenting the abundant transgressions of a demagogue, giving us essential insight into the implications for free and open society. As Klaas skilfully explains, if we are to beat back the spectre of despotism, it will be a result of citizens’ devotion to democratic principles.’
Evan McMullin, former chief policy director for the House Republican Conference, former CIA operations officer, independent candidate for the 2016 United States presidential election.
‘This piece of investigative journalism should be taken seriously on both sides of the pond. The author’s observations on dictatorships across the globe sharpen up our understanding of the weakening of democracy and the attacks on press freedom that are part and parcel of the Trump phenomenon.’
The Methodist Review