Dictator Style

November 3, 2009

Citizens, it is no secret that autocrats worldwide are fascinated by the doings of our colleagues. Whether it is weaknesses to exploit in upcoming conflicts or new punishments we might like to implement in our own realms, there is always something we can learn to enhance our own heartless power base. Which is of course why your Sugared Treat was delighted at the release of a little book called Dictator Style: Lifestyles of the World’s Most Colorful Despots by a peon named Peter York. The title promised delights on the level of reading Mugabe’s diary (which I did once when we were staying in the same luxury resort at the expense of our starving citizens back home. That man has problems.), but sadly, the content did not provide the voyeuristic amusements I hoped for.

With the word “lifestyles” right there on the cover, I think a dictator like Myself has the right to expect a certain amount of dishiness, but alas, the author appears to have confused “lifestyle” with “interior design”. The book focuses almost exclusively on who had what furniture and not being much interested in Hitler’s desk, I did find the whole outing a little uninspired.

That said, the photos inside are lollipops for My eyes and Stalin lying in repose on his sofa does much to ease My disappointment in  the true nature of the book. And with the book broken up into compact sections for each autocrat, the accompanying text nicely sums up some of the dictator’s major accomplishments, a pleasant reminder of things I have tried or would like to try with you, dear citizens. Most delightful of all is the “Infamous Moniker” listing for my dearly departed colleague, Mobuto Sese Seko: “The All-Powerful Warrior Who, Because of His Endurance and Inflexible Will to Win, Will Go from Conquest to Conquest, Leaving Fire in His Wake”. Much more effective than the “Dictator and President for Life” that I sport.

As an introduction to basic interior decorating for aspiring dictators, the book goes a long way, even including a ten-step guide in the introduction. But no matter how many paintings you hang of yourself and how much marble and gold you splash out on, in the end, it is your own terrible ruthlessness that makes you the lord of all you see. And always seeking to express my own cruel heart in new and creative ways, I hoped to learn more about the similarly cruel hearts of my fellows and less about the size of the chandeliers they had in the entryway. For that, though, Lifestyles offers no help and I must turn to the Internet for the gossip I crave.

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