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Dictator Literature

A History of Despots Through Their Writing

Daniel Kalder



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One World
01 July 2018
A Book of the Year for The Times and the Sunday Times 'The writer is the engineer of the human soul,' claimed Stalin. Although one wonders how many found nourishment in Turkmenbashi's Book of the Soul (once required reading for driving tests in Turkmenistan), not to mention Stalin's own poetry. Certainly, to be considered great, a dictator must write, and write lots. Mao had his Little Red Book, Mussolini and Saddam Hussein their romance novels, Kim Jong-il his treatise on the art of film, Hitler his hate-filled tracts. What do they reveal about their authors, the worst people imaginable? And how did they shape twentieth-century history? To find out, Daniel Kalder read them all - the badly written and the astonishingly badly written - so that you don't have to. This is the untold history of books so terrible they should have been crimes.
By:   Daniel Kalder
Imprint:   One World
Country of Publication:   United Kingdom
Dimensions:   Height: 225mm,  Width: 146mm, 
ISBN:   9781786070586
ISBN 10:   1786070588
Pages:   400
Publication Date:   01 July 2018
Audience:   General/trade ,  ELT Advanced
Format:   Hardback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Daniel Kalder is the author of Lost Cosmonaut and Strange Telescopes. He has contributed to BBC Radio, Esquire, the Guardian and The Times among other publications. Originally from Fife, Scotland, he lived in Moscow for ten years before moving to Texas, where he currently resides.

Reviews for Dictator Literature: A History of Despots Through Their Writing

`Very funny...After reading Dictator Literature you will never look at books with such a benevolent eye again.' * <i>Spectator</i> * `I enjoyed this book a great deal . . . it's actually a rather snappy read.' * Will Self, <i>Guardian</i> * `A fascinating study...partly an enjoyable romp but mostly a sombre sidelong-glance history of 20th-century totalitarianism.' * <i>Sunday Telegraph</i> * `Brisk, and full of antic fun.' * <i>New Statesman</i> * `Hugely compelling...Like coming across a planet-sized car crash, with hundreds of millions snarled up in the wreckage: you can't look away. Kalder has really dug deep into the minds of these infernal texts' creators, and thus delivers some truly enlightening insights.' * <i>Irish Independent </i> * `Kalder is our cheeky and irreverent guide to the (generally aggressively tedious) prose by history's despots.' * <i>Tatler</i> * `Full of...wonders, and startling individual facts...An overwhelmingly powerful reminder of 20th-century misrule, and of just how delusional human beings can be - especially if they're literate.' * <i>Telegraph</i> * `Daniel Kalder...deserves a medal...Dictator Literature is a great book...An insightful book, but also a funny one.' * <i>Times</i> * `This is about the most discomforting book I've read in the past year. Never mind Trump and never mind Twitter: Kalder demonstrates that words themselves, and the escapist spells we weave with them, are our riskiest civic gift.' -- Simon Ings, author of <i>Stalin and the Scientists</i> `A compelling examination of why bad minds create bad writing, and therefore a valuable read for anyone interested in literature - or the world, in fact. Kalder's dry humour makes Dictator Literature a fun tour de force through the mad history of the 20th century and the present.' -- Norman Ohler, author of <i>Blitzed</i>

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