BOOKS BY DANIEL KALDER
THE INFERNAL LIBRARY: March 2018 US
AKA DICTATOR LITERATURE April 2018 UK
'A mesmerizing study of books by despots great and small.'
The Washington Post
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? What do 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 and brilliantly 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
oftheir own thoughts brooked no argument. It is perhaps no wonder then--as
Kalder argues--that many dictators began their careers as writers.
BOOK OF THE WEEK The London Times
BOOK OF THE WEEK The London Evening Standard
‘Daniel Kalder…deserves a medal…Dictator Literature is a great book...An insightful
book, but also a funny one.'
‘I enjoyed this book a great deal . . . it’s actually a rather snappy read.’
Will Self, Guardian
'With a nimble style and an eye for leaden prose...Kalder's work is quite an
accomplishment, and is the one book people interesting in the terrible writing of
dictators should read.'
Publisher's Weekly (Starred Review)
‘A fascinating study…partly an enjoyable romp but mostly a sombre sidelong-glance
history of 20th-century totalitarianism.’
‘Brisk, and full of antic fun.’
'This about the most discomforting book I’ve read in the past year. Never mind Trump
and never mind Twitter: Daniel Kalder demonstrates that words themselves, and the
escapist spells we weave with them, are our riskiest civic gift. Kalder’s claim – that he
has read the deathless prose of tyrants so we don’t have to – does not go nearly far
enough. Dictator Literature sweeps aside the ideas and intentions of its subjects (Mao,
Hitler, Stalin, and their imitators) and reveals what’s really been going on: an epic, word-
transforming battle between words and reality, between people as they are
and people as we would like them to be.’
Simon Ings, author of Stalin and the Scientists
The fact that Kalder sometimes finds merit in a dictator’s writing—usually, it must be
admitted, before he became dictator, for power corrupts words among the many other
things that it corrupts—is testimony to his laudable open-mindedness. His judgments
are not facile... [a] valuable book."
Anthony Daniels, The Weekly Standard
‘Hugely compelling…Like coming across a planet-sized car crash, with hundreds of
millions snarled up in the wreckage: you can’t look away. Kalder has really dug deep
into the minds of these infernal texts’ creators, and thus delivers some truly enlightening
‘Full of…wonders, and startling individual facts…An overwhelmingly powerful reminder
of 20th-century misrule, and of just how delusional human beings can be – especially if
The Daily Telegraph
'This books is hilarious and horrific, appalling and enthralling.'
Francis Wheen, The Oldie
‘Kalder is our cheeky and irreverent guide to the (generally aggressively tedious) prose
by history’s despots.’
"...a perverse feat of literary endurance."
To the Best of Our Knowledge, NPR
‘A compelling examination of why bad minds create bad writing, and therefore
a valuable read for anyone interested in literature – or the world, in fact. Every
writer is certainly a little dictator, and every dictator, it seems, a little writer.
Kalder’s dry humour makes Dictator Literature a fun tour de force through the
mad history of the 20th century and the present.’
Norman Ohler, author of Blitzed
Behold! The knowledge
you seek about Daniel
Kalder's earlier books
awaits you here.