Wed, 4 September 2019

6:45 pm - 8:00 pm

How To Be a Dictator

Frank Dikötter


Emmanuel Centre

9-23 Marsham Street, London


View map

Mao. Mussolini. Duvalier. Stalin. The tyrants of the twentieth century had little in common politically – but they all knew how to nurture loyalty through a cult of adoration and fear.

In an age when the strength and stability of liberal democracy and its institutions are under assault, eminent historian Professor Frank Dikötter presents a How To guide unlike any you’ve seen before: lessons from eight of history’s most reviled dictators, offering a complete account of the techniques they used to maintain power even as they led their people into serfdom.

How did the twentieth century’s most reviled dictators turn hundreds of millions of subjects into self-censoring sycophants who extolled their leader’s genius at every opportunity? How did men such as Kim Il-sung, Hitler, and Ceausescu create Orwellian societies built on thought control and fantastical enthusiasm?

In this authoritative talk, Professor Dikötter explores how the cult of personality took hold, grew, and sustained itself across very different cultures – and offers us a warning for the future.


Praise for Frank Dikotter:

“Definitive and harrowing”- Daily Mail

“Dikötter never allows his intense account to degenerate into melodrama. Networks of power and information are carefully traced, revealing a movement that spiralled into general score- settling on such a scale that Mao and his allies had only intermittent control … Fascinating “- Daily Telegraph