Vox Conversations

Vox Conversations brings you discussions between the brightest minds and the deepest thinkers; conversations that will cause you to question old assumptions and think about the world and our role in it in a new light. Join Sean Illing, Jamil Smith, and their colleagues across the Vox newsroom for new episodes every Monday and Thursday.



The road from 9/11 to Donald Trump

Sean Illing talks with national security reporter Spencer Ackerman, author of the new book Reign of Terror. They discuss the staggering changes to our country in the 20 years since 9/11; the flaws, misdeeds, and injustices of the “war on terror” and the regimes that have executed it; and how America was led by the worst act of domestic terror on its own soil down a vicious, bellicose, and anti-democratic path to an authoritarian president like Trump.

Host: Sean Illing (@seanilling), Interviews Writer, Vox

Guest: Spencer Ackerman (@attackerman), national security reporter, author


  • Reign of Terror: How the 9/11 Era Destabilized America and Produced Trump by Spencer Ackerman (Viking; 2021)
  • "The Fight Over the 'Ground Zero Mosque' Was a Grim Preview of the Trump Era" by Tim Murphy (Mother Jones; Sept. 9)
  • "Trump Ramped Up Drone Strikes in America's Shadow Wars" by Spencer Ackerman (The Daily Beast; Nov. 26, 2018)
  • "The Lessons of Anwar al-Awlaki" by Tim Shane (New York Times Magazine; Aug. 27, 2015)
  • Power Wars: The Relentless Rise of Presidential Authority and Secrecy by Charlie Savage (Hachette; 2015)

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This episode was made by: 

  • Producer: Erikk Geannikis
  • Editor: Amy Drozdowska
  • Deputy Editorial Director, Vox Talk: Amber Hall
  • VP, Vox Audio: Liz Kelly Nelson

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 2021-09-13  1h8m