Saturday, January 20, 2007

Dictator Style: Lifestyles of the World's Most Colorful Despots - Peter York

The Basics: Dictator Style: Lifestyles of the World's Most Colorful Despots, Peter York, 2006, 119 pages, hardcover

How I found it: I saw it reviewed in the Sept/Oct 2006 issue of Outpost Magazine.

What's it about?: This is a coffee table style book. Each dictator gets a few pages for their homes to be displayed Better Homes and Gardens-style. Running along side the photos is text describing the dictator's life and lifestyle as well as explaining and critiquing the contents of each photo.

Did I like it?: This is the sort of book that I enjoy: pictures of opulence next to cutting comments about the tackiness of said opulence. This is a bit like Go Fug Yourself for dictators homes instead of celebrity outfits. The only thing I didn't like about the book is that the text that accompanies the pictures was written essay style. So while it had nice flow, it often meant that the discussion of the contents of a particular image was not located on the same page as that image. All the flipping between pages drove me crazy.

Will you like it?: This is the sort of book you leaf through, rather than read cover to cover. It's an interesting read/gaze with lots of fun tidbits about the dictators - did you know that after he died many of Ceausescu's 9,000 suits were donated to Europe's last leper colony (located in Romania of course)? It's not something I would rush out to get unless you are fascinated by this topic, but if you happen to run across it, this book is a worth a glance or five.

But don't take my word for it: A brief blurb from New York Magazine, a longer review from The Phoenix (Boston's arts paper), an a few reader reviews from

1 comment:

  1. Seriously? Lepers? Wow.

    Little-known fact: birth control was illegal in Romania, because Ceausescu wanted a bigger workforce. When AIDS started to manifest itself in the eighties, doctors knew about it but public knowledge of it was suppressed, because that would increase the already-huge black market of condoms.