How to Be a Dictator by Frank Dik├ÂtterHow to Be a Dictator by Frank Dikötter

Harvard Club of San Francisco Reading Group

San Francisco (location will be sent on Friday, February 7 to those who RSVP)

Free, but RSVP required

Sunday, February 9
4:30 - 6:00 p.m.

Mussolini, Hitler, Stalin, Mao Zedong, Kim Il-sung, Ceausescu, Mengistu of Ethiopia and Duvalier of Haiti. No dictator can rule through fear and violence alone. Naked power can be grabbed and held temporarily, but it never suffices in the long term. The paradox of the modern dictator is that he must create the illusion of popular support. Throughout the twentieth century, hundreds of millions of people were condemned to enthusiasm, obliged to hail their leaders even as they were herded down the road to serfdom. From carefully choreographed parades to the deliberate cultivation of a shroud of mystery through iron censorship, these dictators ceaselessly worked on their own image and encouraged the population at large to glorify them.

At a time when democracy is in retreat, are we seeing a revival of the same techniques among some of today's world leaders? This timely study, told with great narrative verve, examines how a cult takes hold, grows, and sustains itself. It places the cult of personality where it belongs, at the very heart of tyranny.

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Read the book then bring your thoughts and perspective to a lively discussion.
Registration required by February 6.

Please contact Laura Shenkar at for questions


4:30PM - 6:00PM Sun 9 Feb 2020, Pacific timezone


San Francisco (location will be sent on Friday, February 7 to those who RSVP)

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