The Nature of Despotism: From Mussolini to Mugabe, the Making of Tyrants
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- 26th September 2008
- 248 pages - 235 x 156 xmm
The difference between a strong ruler and a despot can be defined by gratuitous cruelty in excess of the need to retain power, but what is it that drives a ruler to this extreme?The tyrants discussed in "The Nature of Despotism" share common backgrounds, behaviours and motivations that, when viewed together, can be seen as forming the character of the despot. From aspects that are easily predicted, such as violent, miserable childhoods, to those that seem more surprising, such as frustrated artistic impulses, each manifestation of despotic causes and effects is examined in detail.The book contains specific reference to the lives and careers of such despots as Nero, Genghis Khan, Vlad the Impaler, Robespierre, Stalin, Hitler, Papa Doc Duvalier, Pol Pot, Saddam Hussien, Kim Jong Il and more.With chapters on the use of ceremony and scapegoats to distract their people, the importance of building a personality cult, the pretension to and control of culture and the myth of efficiency, "The Nature of Despotism" is a fascinating look at what it is that makes a tyrant and offers predictions for the future of depotism in a world where international bodies increasingly intervene in a country's affairs.
Tom Ambrose read history at Trinity College Dublin and gained a postgraduate degree at University College London. He worked in advertising in London and Dublin before switching to producing and directing television documentaries. His widely acclaimed first book, Hitler's Loss: what Britain and America gained from Europe's cultural exiles (2001) was followed in 2005 by the successful The King and the Vice Queen: George IV's last scandalous affair.