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Children of Monsters: An Inquiry into the Sons and Daughters of Dictators Hardcover – September 22, 2015
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About the Author
Jay Nordlinger is a senior editor of "National Review." He writes about a variety of subjects, including politics, foreign affairs, and the arts. He is music critic for "The New Criterion" and "City Arts" (New York), as well as for NR. He has won awards for his work on human rights, in particular. Some 100 pieces are gathered in "Here, There & Everywhere: Collected Writings of Jay Nordlinger." A native Michigander, the author lives in New York.
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I highly recommend this book not just for the fascinating stories and histories but also as a teachable book on the corruption of political systems like Communism and Fascism. It really hits home to the importance of individual liberties and constitutional rights.
Nordlinger begins by writing that this is not a book about the original monsters, the dictators themselves. While they must be mentioned, they are dead. The offspring are important for a few reasons. Where are they now? What are they doing? Do their current activities serve as a possible springboard for the resurgence of policies of the original dictators? Have the children decided to live in as much as obscurity as possible? Are the children defensive about their parents lingering reputation? Are they trying to make amends or apologies for their parents?
All of these questions are addressed by Nordlinger. Not necessarily answered, but addressed with researched information from primary and secondary sources. The 20 chapter titles are each the name of a dictator. The index with hyperlinked page numbers allows the reader to explore the overlaps in the lives of several of the dictators such as Hitler-Mussolini, Hitler-Franco, and Hitler-Stalin.
A thoroughly fast-paced and enjoyable (despite the topic) read, I found that after finishing it, I had abandoned my usual practice of highlighting what I considered important points. That is why I liked the inclusion of an index.
The children of the following dictators are described by Nordlinger. The dictators are Hitler (a Frenchman claimed his mother was impregnanted by Hitler during World War I); Mussolini; Franco; Stalin; Tojo; Mao; Kim; Hohxa; Ceausecu; Duvalier; Castro;Qaddfafi;; Assad; Saddam; Khomeni; Mobutu; Bokassa; Amin; Mengistui and Pol Pot. The author believes that Mao was cold and cruel not caring for any of his children. Stalin was a cruel and cold man who did not treat his three children with respect and love. His daughter defected to the West. The book's concept is intriguing and Nordlinger has done his research.
Too few have had the courage to face their fathers’ actions. Most have either denied reality, dismissing it as politically-motivated disinformation, or chose to hide from the world and from themselves. Unsurprisingly, virtually all displayed paradoxical, inconsistent, even schizophrenic behavior.
These men and women have been dealt an unusual hand—and played it in their various ways. We learn a little more about tyranny, freedom, fate, choice, and people.
Jay Nordlinger examines the offspring of 20 20th century dictators. They cover over a century of history, and span the globe.
The stories are quite diverse, but also have much commonality. What struck me was how much these people might (or might not) have in common with the children of notorious criminals, the children of Hollywood celebrities, and the children of political families.