The Infernal Library

The Infernal Library

On Dictators, the Books They Wrote, and Other Catastrophes of Literacy

Book - 2018 | First edition
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"A harrowing tour of 'dictator literature' in the twentieth-century, featuring the soul-killing prose and poetry of Hitler, Mao, and many more, which shows how books have sometimes shaped the world for the worse." -- From book jacket.
Publisher: New York : Henry Holt and Company, 2018
Edition: First edition
Branch Call Number: 321.9 K
Characteristics: xvi, 379 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
ISBN: 9781627793421
1627793429

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SkokieStaff_Steven Apr 04, 2018

As a professional reader of book reviews, I’ve learned that reviews of bad books are usually more entertaining than reviews of good books. With this in mind, I knew I was in for a treat when I picked up “The Infernal Library: On Dictators, the Books They Wrote, and Other Catastrophes of Literacy”... Read More »


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SkokieStaff_Steven Apr 04, 2018

As a professional reader of book reviews, I’ve learned that reviews of bad books are usually more entertaining than reviews of good books. With this in mind, I knew I was in for a treat when I picked up “The Infernal Library: On Dictators, the Books They Wrote, and Other Catastrophes of Literacy” by Daniel Kadler. Kadler does not disappoint as he all but uses a bulldozer to pile abuse on the written creations of dictators and authoritarian rulers from Lenin to Putin. All the great twentieth-century dictators are here as well as many lessor lights with the notable exception of anyone from sub-Saharan Africa. Kadler’s unrelenting snarky tone takes a little getting used to, but he can hardly be said to bestow it on undeserving targets. Although the literary crimes of dictators might seem trivial compared to their other misdeeds, Kadler amply demonstrates the real harm done by books such as “Mein Kampf” or Mao’s “Little Red Book,” if only as symbolic objects. As someone who has heard of several of the texts explored by Kadler, I’m glad to have a sense of what they contain without actually having to read them.

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