A vivid, brilliant, darkly humorous and horrifying history of some of the strangest dictators that Europe has ever seen.
Balanced precariously on the shifting fault line between East and West, Romania's schizophrenic, often violent past is one of the great untold stories of modern Europe.
The country that gave us Vlad Dracula, and whose citizens consider themselves descendants of ancient Rome, has traditionally preferred the status of enigmatic outsider. But this beautiful and unexplored land has experienced some of the most disastrous leaderships of the last century.
After a relatively benign period led by a dutiful King and his vivacious British-born Queen, the country oscillated wildly. Its interwar rulers form a gallery of bizarre characters and extreme movements: the corrupt and mentally unbalanced King Carol; the fascist death cult led by Corneliu Codreanu; the vain General Ion Antonescu, who seized power in 1940 and led the country into a catastrophic alliance with Nazi Germany. After 1945 power was handed to Romania's tiny communist party, under which it experienced severe repression, purges and collectivisation.
Then in 1965, Nicolae Ceaușescu came to power. And thus began the strangest dictatorship of all.
'A witty and page-turning narrative full of grotesque characters' Misha Glenny
'Paul Kenyon sweeps away the myths of romance and horror that cling to this fascinating and mysterious country' Allan Little
'Absolutely essential reading for anyone interested in Romania past and present' John Simpson
'The stories it tells of dictators such as Robert Mugabe and Muammer Gaddafi are grimly fascinating and leave the reader to ponder why so many of Africa's liberation heroes turned into villains' Finanical Times, Books of the Year.
'A familiar story, but still shocking' Sunday Times.
'Mr Kenyon narrates a jaw-dropping tale of greed, corruption and brutality' Frederick Forsyth, Daily Express.
'Dictatorland is a humane, timely, accessible and well-researched book that shines a light on urgent African issues […] that, when we consider the state of our own societies, can no longer be dismissed as merely somewhere else's problem' Irish Times.
'It is [the] minute observations that make Mr Kenyon's book so hard to put down' Economist.
'Highly readable ... A chapter on the rise of Félix Houphouët-Boigny is especially vivid' The Times