Economics Daniel Chirot Modern Tyrants

ISBN 13: 9780029054772

Modern Tyrants

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9780029054772: Modern Tyrants

Along with its much vaunted progress in scientific and economic realms, the twentieth century has witnessed the rise of the most brutal and oppressive regimes in the history of humankind. Even with the collapse of Marxism, current instances of "ethnic cleansing" remind us that tyranny persists in our own age and shows no sign of abating. Daniel Chirot offers an important and timely study of modern tyrants, both revealing the forces that allow them to come to power and helping us to predict where they may arise in the future.Along with its much vaunted progress in scientific and economic realms, the twentieth century has witnessed the rise of the most brutal and oppressive regimes in the history of humankind. Even with the collapse of Marxism, current instances of "ethnic cleansing" remind us that tyranny persists in our own age and shows no sign of abating. Daniel Chirot offers an important and timely study of modern tyrants, both revealing the forces that allow them to come to power and helping us to predict where they may arise in the future.

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From Kirkus Reviews:

A well-informed, convincing analysis of the most oppressive regimes of our century and what we can learn from them for the future, by Chirot (Political science/Northwestern; Social Change in the Modern Era, etc.--not reviewed). Well over one hundred million people have died and the lives of several billion have been wrecked as a result of war and political oppression in the 20th century. Chirot guides us along the ultimate rogues' gallery as he looks at modern tyrants from Stalin and Hitler down to Saddam Hussein, Kim Il Sung, and at the ongoing problems of Haiti. Along the way, he argues that the modern tyrant is different from his predecessors in history because his motivation is ideological and his cruelty is thus more deliberate and far-reaching. Modern tyranny, Chirot says, is most likely to occur when nationalism combined with deep resentment against foreign influence emerges in a weak state, and when the notion of scientific certainty is applied to theories that justify massive social and racial engineering in order to bring about utopias. Chirot's studies of his 13 tyrants are nuanced and well documented, and his thought seems to owe much to Karl Popper. He writes history in order to elucidate, not merely to relate; yet he avoids moralizing and rhetoric, drawing just a few modest and well-argued conclusions. Modern tyranny has not ended with communism, he says, and it is going to stay with us. If its essence is a ``tyranny of certainty,'' based on theories of group conflict, Chirot's prescription is flexibility, a dogged faith in democratic processes, and an unrelenting awareness that the individual is more than just a functioning member of the community. No simple answers here but perceptive insights intelligently presented. -- Copyright 1993, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

From Booklist:

Here is an episodic look at 13 of this century's despots, ranging from champions of murder down to the Duvaliers of Haiti. For the most part, the intellectual heavy lifting has already been achieved in such critiques as The Origins of Totalitarianism by Hannah Arendt, Modern Times by Paul Johnson, and Hitler and Stalin by Alan Bullock . Yet there remains the need for a propagator of their analyses, a role that college professor Chirot adopts for the newcomer to the subject. His work requires a certain determination to read, for it is not light fare, it is rather mechanical rhetorically, and there are some gruesome passages. Moreover, Chirot presents the pessimistic argument that such tyrants as Adolf Hitler and Pol Pot are liable to recur in the post-Cold War situation. To hold the mirror to the future, he gives a capsule history of the country in question, the fanaticism of the dictator's belief in his unique gnosis, and the body count it took to effect it. Libraries where the classics on tyranny circulate might see this title join the stream. Gilbert Taylor

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