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How to Be a Dictator

The Cult of Personality in the Twentieth Century
Narrated by: Jack Bennett
Length: 9 hrs and 4 mins
Categories: History, 20th Century
4.5 out of 5 stars (19 ratings)

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Summary

Bloomsbury presents How to Be a Dictator by Frank Dikötter, read by Jack Bennett.  

Mussolini, Hitler, Stalin, Mao Zedong, Kim Il-sung, Ceausescu, Mengistu of Ethiopia and Duvalier of Haiti.   

No dictator can rule through fear and violence alone. Naked power can be grabbed and held temporarily, but it never suffices in the long term. A tyrant who can compel his own people to acclaim him will last longer. The paradox of the modern dictator is that he must create the illusion of popular support. Throughout the 20th century, hundreds of millions of people were condemned to enthusiasm, obliged to hail their leaders even as they were herded down the road to serfdom.   

In How to Be a Dictator, Frank Dikötter returns to eight of the most chillingly effective personality cults of the 20th century. From carefully choreographed parades to the deliberate cultivation of a shroud of mystery through iron censorship, these dictators ceaselessly worked on their own images and encouraged the population at large to glorify them. At a time when democracy is in retreat, are we seeing a revival of the same techniques among some of today’s world leaders?   

This timely study, told with great narrative verve, examines how a cult takes hold, grows and sustains itself. It places the cult of personality where it belongs: at the very heart of tyranny.

©2019 Frank Dikötter (P)2019 Bloomsbury Publishing Plc

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Excellent narrator

Easy and interesting listening. I love the chapter structure following each dictator. The narrator is excellent.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 06-12-19

Worth a listen

Excellent. I only wish it provided some normative description of whether such personality cults made the regimes more or less robust. More insight into the Why's and to what ends would have been welcome.

2 people found this helpful