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Tyrants: The World's 20 Worst Living Dictators Paperback – September 5, 2006


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; First Edition edition (September 5, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060590041
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060590048
  • Product Dimensions: 7.4 x 0.9 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,080,645 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

The 20 "worst living dictators" discussed here include Kim Jong-il, North Korea; King Abdullah, Saudi Arabia; Muammar al--Qaddafi, Libya; Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe; and Fidel Castro, Cuba. Wallechinsky offers comprehensive profiles of these tyrants, labeling, for example, government-approved chaos, economic bungling, human-rights violations, torture, censorship, and forced labor. But wait--the twenty-first is George W. Bush! He's not a dictator, the author assures us, but he points out that Bush's foreign policy is based on unilateralism, and his domestic policy is based on helping large corporations. Wallechinsky believes that the president's war on terrorism is an excuse to commit human-rights abuses, and he details what he calls government corruption and transparency. He discusses such subjects as the government's arbitrary arrest and detention, denial of fair public trials, and torture and other cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment and punishment. Liberals will relish this book; right-wing conservatives probably will not. George Cohen
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

About the Author

David Wallechinsky is the bestselling coauthor of The Book of Lists and The People's Almanac, and the author of The Complete Book of the Summer Olympics and The Complete Book of the Winter Olympics. Also a contributing editor to Parade magazine, he divides his time between Santa Monica, California, and Provence, France.


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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Hideyo Kusano on October 1, 2006
Format: Paperback
The book DOES mention our current President George W. Bush, but not as a dictator; just as an example of how some powers, even in somewhat more privileged nations, can be abused. The author merely compared the president's quotes and actions to those of the book's noted dictators. As a matter of fact, Bush is on the 21st chapter of the book (which is titled "A Special Case" meaning he's not included in the 20 living dictators as implied by the title), and at the beginning and end of the chapter, the author clearly states "George Bush is not a dictator". Sure, it's likely the author has an agenda against Bush, but who the heck doesn't? The United States is a free-speech country (so says the First Amendment), and the book was published in the United States. So shame on YOU for being so bias!! You practically spit on your own constitution!!

Besides, the main issue the book discloses is the other TWENTY dictators around the world. The heck with Bush's entry at the end of the book! What's important is to know about what the reality is around the world! Just in case, this book is not overly about conspiracy, and tells us pretty much the facts about living dictators that an average person could have never put together just by using the news and internet as a source of information. To simplify what I'm trying to say, this book is smart, precise, and concise. It even tells us about the history of the countries suffering under an abusive rule, and how it got there.

But, if you MUST be a typical Bush supporter and not read this book, then fine. Just letting you know you're all going to miss out on a spectacular and thorough book. As it is a considerably short fact-book, I wouldn't use it as a main source of information regarding a particular dictator though, but it's a good way to start learning about what's going on around the world, BESIDES BUSH. Get it while it's hot!!
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By leario on January 24, 2007
Format: Paperback
I always enoyed this authors 10 worst dictators list published annually in PARADE magazine; so when his book came out I picked it up. Very interesting read. With every dictator the author is sure to give a history of the country so we can understand how the political and economic climate of these countries allow people like these to rise to power. This book sheds light on not only the obvious dictators from countries like North Korea and Sudan, but also the less known ones out of countries like Syria and Burma. The addition of Bush is an interesting choice. He is not even close to being as evil as any of the others on the list; but he has instituted policies that take away the rights of his own citizens. The addition of Hugo Chavez would have been a good. Overall, this book is a good read.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on June 13, 2011
Format: Paperback
Overall, it is a good book. Bit I have a few complaints. George Bush shouldn't be in here. He is not the 20 worst dictators alive, but he should not be a bonus either. Those who hate Bush should blame Osama because Bush responded to the 9-11 attacks. For a bonus, I would have picked Mengistu Haile Mariam because he was a dictator, but he is no longer in power, which is why he is not included in the 20 worst ones alive. He killed almost 1.5 million Ethiopians and deserves a spot in this book. Also Omar should not be number one. Kim Jong-il and Robert Mugabe are a lot worse and have caused a lot more suffering.
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5 of 8 people found the following review helpful By David A. Kirkwood on October 23, 2006
Format: Paperback
This is an easy but interesting read. We can be so unaware of what is going on in the world and books like this one can help increase our understanding of the world. To be honest, I wasn't even aware of at least half of these leaders. Very interesting book.
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4 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Chris Luallen on May 5, 2007
Format: Paperback
This book includes a wealth of information not only about well known dictators such as North Korea's Kim Jong-il and Cuba's Fidel Castro. But also lesser known despots in countries like Swaziland and Turkmenistan.

Yet it is not just some simply written "list." Instead each chapter provides an ample historical background that explains the circumstances that led to a dictatorial form of government. In most cases, the current dictator is not just an individual aberration. But rather a continuation of the country's long history of authoritarian rule, as in the cases of China and Saudi Arabia.

George W Bush does receieve his own "special section." But the author makes it very clear that he is not an actual dictator. Instead Wallechinsky makes a compelling case that Bush has taken dangerous steps, such as the so-called "Patriot Act," to take away our cherished American freedoms. Furthemore, the Bush administration lied to the American public in order to justify the war in Iraq, authorized the use of torture against prisoners of war and has threatened America's historically successful system of check and balances by expanding the power of the executive branch at the expense of the judical and legislative branches of government. To me these are all abuses of power that are highly worthy of condemnation.

Wallechinsky comes across more as a champion of civil liberties than a stereotypically "big government" type liberal. His list also includes the Communist dictators of China, Laos, North Korea and elsewhere, so clearly there is no "left wing agenda" in play. Rather Wallechinsky's purpose is to criticize tyranny and the lack of democratic freedoms wherever they exist and this book is worth reading by any person that values freedom and democracy, including both liberals and conservatives.
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