The pen and the sword

The age of the dictator has not passed, alas, and demagogues are having their day.

By MATTHEW PRICE
April 5, 2018 16:08
3 minute read.
A COPY of the book ‘Hitler, Mein Kampf. A Critical Edition’ lies on a display table in a bookshop in

A COPY of the book ‘Hitler, Mein Kampf. A Critical Edition’ lies on a display table in a bookshop in Munich in 2016. (photo credit: MICHAEL DALDER/REUTERS)

 
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The Infernal Library: On Dictators, the Books They Wrote, and Other Catastrophes of Literacy, Daniel Kalder’s long march through the writings of 20th-century tyrants, is mind-numbing and mortifying in equal measure.

Starting with Lenin, “the father of dictator literature,” Kalder surveys a mother lode of tracts, treatises, pamphlets, speeches, autobiographies, quotations and even fiction (Saddam Hussein wrote historical romances) from the 20th century’s age of extremes.

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