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During the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, political dictators were not only popular in their own countries, but were also admired by numerous highly educated and idealistic Western intellectuals. The objects of this political hero-worship included Benito Mussolini, Adolph Hitler, Joseph Stalin, Mao Zedong, Fidel Castro and more recently Hugo Chavez, among others. This book seeks to understand the sources of these misjudgements and misperceptions, the specific appeals of particular dictators, and the part played by their charisma, or pseudo-charisma. It sheds new light not only on the political disposition of numerous Western intellectuals - such as Martin Heidegger, Eric Hobsbawm, Norman Mailer, Ezra Pound, Susan Sontag and George Bernard Shaw - but also on the personality of those political leaders who encouraged, and in some instances helped to design, the cult surrounding their rise to dictatorship.
Table of Contents
1. Introduction: intellectuals and politics; 2. Mussolini, fascism and intellectuals; 3. Hitler, Nazism and intellectuals; 4. Stalin, Rakosi, Soviet communism and intellectuals; 5. Castro, Che Guevara, and their Western admirers; 6. Western intellectuals, Mao's China and Cambodia under Pol Pot; 7. Other dictators and their admirers in more recent times; 8. Conclusions: the personal and the political.