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Dictator Style: Lifestyles of the World's Most Colorful Despots Hardcover – April 27, 2006


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Dictator Style: Lifestyles of the World's Most Colorful Despots + Tyrants: The World's 20 Worst Living Dictators
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 132 pages
  • Publisher: Chronicle Books; First edition. edition (April 27, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0811853144
  • ISBN-13: 978-0811853149
  • Product Dimensions: 9.7 x 8.2 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #786,034 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Peter York is an internationally renowned author, broadcaster, journalist, and style guru. A columnist for the Independent on Sunday (U.K.) and GQ , he lives in London.

Douglas Coupland is the author of ten novels and numerous books on popular culture. A regular contributor to the New York Times , New Republic , and Artforum, he lives in Vancouver.

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Customer Reviews

3.3 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

33 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Neurasthenic TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 20, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I purchased this book expecting it would be mostly a collection of outrageous photos, perhaps with captions explaining their subjects and provenance. Instead, the book comprises no more than 50% photos of varying quality (with a fair amount of stretching -- some photos appear more than once), the rest being Peter York's, snarky, well-researched text.

Many of the photos are of poor quality. In some cases, this probably could not be helped; they looked to have been copied from poorly printed originals, with misaligned color plates and the kind of oversaturation one associates with early color print publications of the mid-20th century. In other cases, the photos were clearly copied from websites and blown up much too large; the digital compression artifacts are obvious and distracting. Both problems could have been reduced if the publisher had hired a digital photo guru to color correct, sharpen, etc., though even that would not have resulted in great images.

York's text, on the other hand, is perfectly enjoyable, drawing out the design schemes common to dictators in the 20th century, mocking them by comparison to the decorating conventions in council flats, and so forth. In every case, he provides capsule biographies of the dictators and, at the end of the book, reiterates them. I appreciated these and thought they were well written.

The book should have two stars for the pictures, four stars for the text. I'm calling it three stars overall.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By John Matlock on August 16, 2006
Format: Hardcover
The front end flap of the dust jacket says a lot about the book. It's a quote from P. J. O'Rourke: 'Saddam's chandelier was the size of a two-car garage. If a reason to invade Iraq was wanted, felony interior decorating would have done.'

This book is a private look into the homes of sixteen dictators from around the world. Here are people to whom money is absolutely no object. But they did not contact Frank Lloyd Wright to seek a brilliant new design. They knew what they liked and they got it.

Many of the photographs come from fifty or more years ago, so you need to temper your view with what was in fashion at the time. This is particularly true of the homes of Hitler, Stalin, Juan Peron. The more recent homes have a kind of fancy hotel lobby look.

The book is fascinating. It's with a kind of macabre fascination that you want to see just how these people lived.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By E. M. Van Court VINE VOICE on May 3, 2008
Format: Hardcover
"Dictator Style" is so repulsive you can't look away. This insight into the homes of some of the most evil men and women of the twentieth century reveals depravity, a ghastly lack of taste, and a glimpse into their lives.

Common themes from a century of dictators are discussed up front. Gold, glass, marble, and 'larger than life' are the essentials. Other influences, are mentioned, but these stuck with me. Looking at the themes common to all the homes profiled, I was put in mind of pictures of Graceland, a Trump casino, or the home of someone who came into money entirely too quickly. As I write, I see that this is redundant.

Imagery from the homes of Mobuto, Ceachescu, Saddam Hussein, Milosovic, Tito, Hitler, The Marcoses, Noreiga, and others, along with discussions of the... design decisions, provides a window into the minds of people who sought out absolute power. Milosovic's home struck me as the most tasteful (overdone for my tastes, but to each his own), without the insane overstatement of many of the others. He stood on the cusp between what appeared to be an 'old school' of over-doing European palaces, and the new school of just over-doing everything. Mobuto was amazing, creating a Chinese palace in Africa. Of course, Saddam Hussein took the cake with his dozens of palaces, in the most hideous taste. Even more interesting was that he routinely retired to very modest quarters.

The snapshots of how these people chose to live are disturbing, pathetic, and tacky all at once. The taste displayed is utterly repulsive, but the people behind the images are so facinating that (in a repulsive way) you can't turn away.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on August 16, 2006
Format: Hardcover
DICTATOR STYLE: LIFESTYLES OF THE WORLD'S MOST COLORFUL DESPOTS is a hard book to peg: pairing interior design with a funny look at history's alarming dictators, it blends a racy sense of humor with fun profiles of the inner sanctums of the terrifying. Sixteen such interiors - largely bygone by now - are featured along with dictator profiles and 'achievements': you don't know whether to laugh or cry - but will probably wind up doing both.

Diane C. Donovan

California Bookwatch
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Format: Hardcover
Saw the book at a local book store, sat on the floor and read it cover to cover - okay thoroughly skimmed it - just a ton of fun - it didn't change my life or anything, but a fun and easy read / skim, just wish there were more photos on the really fascinating stuff.
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