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Publisher's Summary

How did America end up with a leader who acts so crudely and despotically, and counter to our democratic principles? Why do his followers stick with him, even when he acts against their interests?

To fully understand, John Dean, a man with a history of standing up to autocratic presidents, joins with Bob Altemeyer, a psychology professor with a unique area of expertise: authoritarianism.

Together, using psychological diagnostic tools, as well as exclusive research and analysis from the Monmouth University Polling Institute - one of America's most respected public opinion research foundations - the authors provide us with an eye-opening understanding of the Trump phenomenon...and what we may be able to do to stop it.

©2020 John W. Dean and Robert A. Altemeyer (P)2020 Kalorama

What listeners say about Authoritarian Nightmare

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Well worth your time

Since 2015, I have been asking, “ why do people support Donald Trump?”. I have read several books in an effort to understand how we, as a citizenry, have arrived at this point in our history, to have a solid 35% of the public support a lying, autocratic-leaning, malignant narcissist.

These books have been insightful regarding our political system and the power brokers who moved us towards a Trumpian presidency. But none of these books explained WHY people support him.

This book, Authoritarian Nightmare, offers a deep dive into the personality traits and socioenvironmental contributors of those who follow/support/promote authoritarian leaders.

I listened to chapters 5-11, four times. I also looked up many of the referenced research. The book leaves this listener with a far better understanding of the “why”.

I have integrated this book’s information with the “how” books I have read which leads me to the astonishing conclusion that our democratic republic is in very serious, grave danger; basically at a tipping point of survival.

Chapter 12 includes a clarion call for citizens to be diligent in protecting our now-fragile democracy & to engage the youth of our nation to be active participants in our system of government. I completely agree.

Finally, I appreciated the sarcastic, humorous quips interspersed throughout the book as it periodically ‘broke’ the content’s grave nature.

I highly recommend this book.

73 people found this helpful

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Excellent explanation of why folks follow Trump

I wondered why folks still followed Trump given his horrible record and this book finally gave me the Answer and now it all makes sense. But it also makes me realize that this is a real problem for our democracy and it’s urgent. You must read this to find out what is at risk.

58 people found this helpful

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Essential reading

This book was something that kept me engaged from start to finish, something I did in just over two workdays. Originally intended to just break down the psychology of Trump supporters, it has now been published with two main parts... the latter half delving into the psychological breakdowns of the personality types that support politicians like Trump, while the first half gives the reader (or listener) a play-by-play of Trump's dealings with the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as the social unrest that has plagued America, since the killing of George Floyd. This book paints a very clear picture of just how fragile our democracy is, and how can ultimately lose it if our current administration wins (or steals) a second term

38 people found this helpful

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Nail on the Head

I previously read Bob Altemeyer’s book “The Authoritarians” and was looking for more information on how it applied to the 2020 political environment. This book hits the nail on the head, correlating personality traits and tendencies with Trump, his appointees, and supporters. Next up is John Dean’s “Pure Goldwater”. I want to more fully understand those who disagree with me politically and socially, and I think this collection of books, and this book in particular, deliver.

37 people found this helpful

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Now Makes Sense

This book was the answer to the same dayem question I have asked myself over the last 4 years. 'why do people follow and support this dude when he constantly lies, wont listen to health authorities, and will be willing to sacrifice granny for the economy'. Good narrator. Solid book format. I hope more people find this book and take the time to absorb.

23 people found this helpful

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Good information, too much sarcasm, could have been presented so much better.

I bought this audiobook on a recommendation from someone else. I was hoping that the research included would help me gain insight to better understand the psychology of what makes a person likely to follow Trump, and to be able to appreciate where others are coming from (because as a Christian woman, I am absolutely disgusted and in complete disbelief at the ways other Christians are backing this incompetent lunatic.)
While the book presents excellent information on the subject based on many quality studies over decades, there is just too much sarcasm added in to make the text feel anything but completely left-biased. As someone who IS left-biased, I was hoping for a more neutral perspective in the presentation, without the sarcasm that is trademark ‘what we are trying to avoid here’. I am disappointed, because this could have been so much better.

18 people found this helpful

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Making Sense of Fanatical Madness

Dean and Altemeyer do an excellent job of explaining the unfathomable non-rational nature of DT and his fanatical following. It is the best analysis I have read so far of the DT phenomenon and what it bodes for America's political future. It is fact-based and has a lucid narrative style that is easy to follow. I most highly recommend this book.

13 people found this helpful

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Fascinating, but not unbiased

I absolutely detest everything about Trump and his ability to con 70 million people to vote for his re-election. I am also gutted by him attempting to destroy our electoral system. As a result, I needed to understand how it was so easy to sway so many people to be so devoted to him personally, not anything else, most definitely not the country. I also needed to know this because my brother is one of those people. I love him, but Trump has put a permanent chasm in his relationship with the rest of his family.

You can learn a lot about how a good percentage of right wingers are influenced by authoritarian ideas from this book, but the language they use are not that of an unbiased researcher. I also question some of the conclusions they draw from what appear to be not representative surveys.

I gave it three stars because I learned a lot and gives me a better understanding of where my brother is coming from, but I am having a really difficult time with all that the authors are pushing. The language they use and the way they reach conclusions make me wonder how accurate what they claim is. I want to believe it so that I can better understand what has impacted my family and this country, but I will need more information since the authors don't seem to be completely trustworthy.

6 people found this helpful

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A great historical guide of a Monster!

As a Hidden Child of WWII the Authors of this “Nightmare “we are all experiencing is to me an accurate ,masterfully written with well chosen truthful words of human descriptions of an unceasing dictatorship of Donald J.Trump which strongly reminds me of Hitler.May our young generations be well guided through this very meaningful book.

4 people found this helpful

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Why Trump followers would follow him into Hell.

Authoritarian Nightmare does a wonderful job in explaining why Trump followers would follow him into Hell. And how changing demographics in America, conservative media and attempted power grabs by white evangelicals has condition these people to believe in authoritarian personalities to the point they would happily give up the Constitution to an authoritarian leader.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Uche duru
  • 03-05-21

fantastic

my book of the year, what an insight on authoritarian followers and cult personality and groups.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Pauline
  • 12-10-20

An illuminating read.

For all those who seek to understand a bizarre phenomenon of human behaviour, as self defeating as it is dangerous.

2 people found this helpful

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  • B. Adamson
  • 07-20-21

A warning from the present day

We think of "authoritarianism" as something which happens to other civilisations, or as a term to describe times when humanity has lost its way and endorsed monsters to lead them. This book describes how easily a big section of the population accepts and even adopts as its heroes people whom others see are entirely unfit to lead. One of the authors (John Dean) should need no introduction, but Altemeyer is a Professor of Psychology who has devoted his life to the study of authoritarianism; his analysis of the people who enabled Trump to become the "Leader of the Free World" and the millions who voted for him and continue to back him even now is eye-opening and very troubling. Humanity has been here before and millions died because it was not recognised: this book is a very loud warning klaxon.

1 person found this helpful

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  • vegasbird
  • 07-25-21

The statistics got a little dull.

in parts the book went a little too much into the studies, which was a little dull, but the rest of the book was interesting.

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  • Brendan Everingham
  • 09-17-20

The first chapter opened with a lie.

This Author has opened his first chapter with a lie, then he goes on to insult the intelligence of his reader in the same breath.

A book written by an arrogant man with very little wit or self-awareness. A self-proclaimed expert, this book is not going to give people insight, People will listen to this and become less intelligent and more radical.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Paul Harmat
  • 03-14-21

Amazingly confronting and relevant

This book with its well documented narrative of Trump's life pre-politics will cause some to shut down. But this has been a topic of Bob Altemeyers for some time and I read his original 'The Authoritarians' and this is a great bookend to that with more relevant political context. Most interesting for me was the predictions made for the election considering this was published prior.