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Engineers of Human Souls

Four Writers Who Changed Twentieth-Century Minds

Simon Ings

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Little Brown
30 January 2024
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Four writers. Four dictators. One world, changed out of all recognition. ENGINEERS OF HUMAN SOULS is an intimate and shocking shadow history of creative vanity in a time that turned writers - once the faithful servants of authority - into figures of political consequence.

Maurice Barres, who first wielded the politics of identity. Gabriele D'Annunzio, whose poetry became a blueprint for fascism. Maxim Gorky, dramatist of the working class and Stalin's cheerleader. The Maoist Ding Ling, whose stories exculpated the regime that kept her imprisoned.

All four nursed extravagant visions of the future, and believed they were vital to its realisation. Each was lured to the centre of political action. Each established a dangerous and damaging relationship with a notorious dictator. And when writers and rulers find a use for each other, the consequences can be shattering for us all. These stories - of courage and compromise, vanity and malevolence - speak urgently to the uncontrollable power of words.

Imprint:   Little Brown
Country of Publication:   United Kingdom
Dimensions:   Height: 232mm,  Width: 152mm,  Spine: 30mm
Weight:   479g
ISBN:   9780349128573
ISBN 10:   034912857X
Pages:   400
Publication Date:  
Audience:   General/trade ,  ELT Advanced
Format:   Paperback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Simon Ings is the author of eight novels and two works of non-fiction, including the Baillie Gifford longlisted Stalin and the Scientists. He co-founded and edited Arc magazine, a digital publication about the future, before joining New Scientist magazine as its arts editor. He writes a monthly science-fiction column and reviews for The Times, in addition to reviews for the Financial Times, Telegraph, The Spectator and others.

Reviews for Engineers of Human Souls: Four Writers Who Changed Twentieth-Century Minds

An utterly thrilling and intellectually revelatory book. At a time when everything seems to be in freefall, and we are all trying to make sense of who we should be in a time of crisis, this is a stunningly wise book. If you read it, you'll learn about some of the deepest questions human beings can ask - and get closer to the answers -- Johann Hari

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