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How to Be a Dictator


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About the Author

Frank Dikoetter is Chair Professor of Humanities at the University of Hong Kong and Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution. His books have changed the way historians view China, from the classic The Discourse of Race in Modern China to his award-winning People's Trilogy documenting the lives of ordinary people under Mao. He lives in Hong Kong.


"How to Be a Dictator hits the perfect balance between popular and scholarly, and it's difficult to imagine the reader who wouldn't learn from it and enjoy the ride. Dikoetter's book is anti-communist and anti-authoritarian in its politics, but more importantly it is historically detailed and compelling in its chronicling of how dictators set about organizing an entire society around their own glorification and power. He makes his points in fresh ways and is careful to bring in fresh details. When he covers less famous dictatorships, like Mengistu's Ethiopia, he brings the same sensibility, but he is never obscure." - Tablet Magazine"How to Be a Dictator takes off from a conviction, no doubt born of [Dikoetter's] Mao studies, that a tragic amnesia about what ideologues in power are like has taken hold of too many minds amid the current 'crisis of liberalism.' And so he attempts a sort of anatomy of authoritarianism, large and small, from Mao to Papa Doc Duvalier. Each dictator's life is offered with neat, mordant compression. Dikoetter's originality is that he counts crimes against civilization alongside crimes against humanity." - New Yorker"Dikoetter writes with academic rigor and awareness that these megalomaniacal figures continue to inspire fascination relevant to politically volatile times." - Kirkus Reviews"Monuments crumble and statues fall, but How to Be a Dictator succeeds in identifying how and why linguistic domination has lasting power." - Paste"If [The Cultural Revolution] were widely circulated in China, it could undermine the legitimacy of the current regime . . . This book is a significant event in our understanding of modern China." - New York Times Book Review on THE CULTURAL REVOLUTION"A fine, sharp study of this tumultuous, elusive era . . . [An] excellent follow-up to his groundbreaking previous work . . . Dikoetter tells a harrowing tale of unbelievable suffering. A potent combination of precise history and moving examples." - Starred review, Kirkus Reviews on THE CULTURAL REVOLUTION"Richly documented . . . Dikoetter paints a chilling picture." - Publishers Weekly on THE CULTURAL REVOLUTION"For those who have swallowed the poisonous claim that the Communist Party deserves some credit for China's current patchy prosperity, Mr. Dikoetter provides the antidote." - Wall Street Journal on THE CULTURAL REVOLUTION"Dikoetter's well-researched and readable new book on the Cultural Revolution's causes and consequences is a crucial reminder of the tragedies, miscalculations and human costs of Mao's last experiment." - The Guardian on THE CULTURAL REVOLUTION"Fluent, compelling and based on a wide range of evidence." - Financial Times on THE CULTURAL REVOLUTION

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