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Tyrants: The World's 20 Worst Living Dictators Paperback – 1 Sep 2006
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About the Author
David Wallechinsky is the bestselling coauthor of The Book of Lists and The People's Almanac, and the author of The Complete Book of the Summer Olympics and The Complete Book of the Winter Olympics. Also a contributing editor to Parade magazine, he divides his time between Santa Monica, California, and Provence, France.
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Yet it is not just some simply written "list." Instead each chapter provides an ample historical background that explains the circumstances that led to a dictatorial form of government. In most cases, the current dictator is not just an individual aberration. But rather a continuation of the country's long history of authoritarian rule, as in the cases of China and Saudi Arabia.
George W Bush does receieve his own "special section." But the author makes it very clear that he is not an actual dictator. Instead Wallechinsky makes a compelling case that Bush has taken dangerous steps, such as the so-called "Patriot Act," to take away our cherished American freedoms. Furthemore, the Bush administration lied to the American public in order to justify the war in Iraq, authorized the use of torture against prisoners of war and has threatened America's historically successful system of check and balances by expanding the power of the executive branch at the expense of the judical and legislative branches of government. To me these are all abuses of power that are highly worthy of condemnation.
Wallechinsky comes across more as a champion of civil liberties than a stereotypically "big government" type liberal. His list also includes the Communist dictators of China, Laos, North Korea and elsewhere, so clearly there is no "left wing agenda" in play. Rather Wallechinsky's purpose is to criticize tyranny and the lack of democratic freedoms wherever they exist and this book is worth reading by any person that values freedom and democracy, including both liberals and conservatives.
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