THE INFERNAL LIBRARY: March 2018 US/April 2018 UK

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.

Since the days of the Roman Empire dictators have written books. But in the
twentieth-century despots enjoyed unprecedented print runs to (literally)
captive audiences. The titans of the genre―Stalin, Mussolini, and Khomeini
among them―produced theoretical works, spiritual manifestos, poetry,
memoirs, and even the occasional romance novel and established a literary
tradition of boundless tedium that continues to this day.

How did the production of literature become central to the running of
regimes? Whatdo these books reveal about the dictatorial soul? And how
can books and literacy, most often viewed as inherently positive, cause

immense and lasting harm? Putting daunting research to revelatory use,
Daniel Kalder asks andbrilliantly answers these questions.  

Marshalled upon the beleaguered shelves of The Infernal Library are the books and commissioned works of the
century’s most notorious figures. Their words led to the deaths of millions. Their conviction in the significance of their
own thoughts brooked no argument. It is perhaps no wonder then, as Kalder argues, that many dictators began their
careers as writers.

Dictators Speak Out In Support of Free Expression and Literature

"Freedom of expression is the right of every natural person, even if a person chooses to behave irrationally, to
express his or her insanity"
Muammar Gaddafi

“Everyone is free to write whatever he likes, without any restrictions.”
Vladimir Lenin

“I raise my glass to you, writers, to the engineers of the soul.”
–Joseph Stalin

“We think that it is harmful to the growth of art and science if administrative measures are used to impose one
particular style of art or school of thought and to ban another.”
Mao Zedong

"Freedom is when you can choose your own ideas and think about them when you please, without being forced to
think something else."
Ayatollah Khomeini

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