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Talk of the Devil: Encounters with Seven Dictators
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Talk of the Devil: Encounters with Seven Dictators

3.59  ·  Rating details ·  358 ratings  ·  54 reviews
Inspired by newspaper clippings he had kept about two former African dictators accused of cannibalism, journalist Riccardo Orizio set out to track down tyrants around the world who had fallen from power--to see if they had gained any perspective on their actions, or if their lives and thoughts could shed any light on our own. The seven encounters chronicled in Talk of the ...more
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published March 1st 2004 by Walker Books (first published 2003)
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Average rating 3.59  · 
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Oct 26, 2007 rated it did not like it
This should be an interesting book, but the author lacks a talent for writing and mostly it was boring trivia.

Too much of the book was about the author getting the stories rather than about the dictators themselves.
Oct 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
As Americans are finding out in the Trump era, what stands out about Dictators and Strongman Wannabes is the shabbiness of their corruption and kleptocracy. And that's the word that stays with you the entire time as Riccardo Orizio seeks out and interviews seven toppled dictators of the 20th Century-Idi Amin, Emperor Bokassa of Central Africa, Nexhmije Hoxha(Enver Hoxha of Albania's wife), Baby Doc Duvalier, Mengistu of Ehtiopia, finishing with Mira Markovic (Slobodan Milosovic's wife) and Wojci ...more
The book, simply enough, consists of seven interviews with seven former ruling dictators (in some cases ruling as a husband and wife pair). Each section lists the crimes they committed. The interviews are not chilling in and of themselves, in many cases Hannah Arendt's famous “banality of evil” phrase will run through your mind as you read them. But it is also frightening how people of such different backgrounds find the same reasons to steal, oppress, and kill.

Idi Amin Dada (Uganda) barely ment
Kirk Battle
Nov 30, 2013 rated it really liked it
Orizio travels to various countries and interviews fallen dictators with the only criteria being that they must be reduced to living as normal people. They cannot have retired into wealth. The subjects vary from men to women, puppets to tyrants, and a wide range of personalities. Some, like Idi Amin, come across as mostly insane or delusional. A case of the wrong kind of person being put into power. Others are good soldiers but bad leaders. Some obsess over the details of their crimes to meticul ...more
Jan 18, 2011 marked it as to-read
Recommended to Oriana by: Leila
Shelves: to-read-soon
sometimes I need to read books that will teach me stuff, rather than my usual diet of pomo escapist lit.
Jamie Bitzenhofer
May 10, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, politics
Sometimes surreal. Frightening and fascinating all in the same breath.
Dec 25, 2020 rated it liked it
Almost all of these people are dead now as this book was written 20 years ago. I read it a long time ago but it turned out while it left a big impression on me I didn't remember very many specifics. They say all the things you'd expect them to say. the lack of remorse or any even "fog of war" type justifications is not surprising I guess but still pretty breathtaking. ...more
Jun 19, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book presupposes you already know all of these people. You'd be better to read about each on their own first, then go to this book if you're really interested in the topic. ...more
Mar 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020
The fact the author managed to get access to these people is amazing. Very insightful book.
Apr 09, 2020 rated it liked it
Interesting. Good writing, but light on analysis. No examination of “why?”
Oct 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
An interesting journalistic exercise that shows the similarities between these dispicable dictators. Rather fascinating. I wish I could have read it in its original Italian language to do it justice.
Mar 16, 2008 rated it really liked it
The author attempts to track down a host of former dictators and discover how they ended up. I was not quite sure what to make of this book. It is part travel book, part history, and part policy. Most of the rulers were products of the cold war, when the superpowers tolerated brutal dictatorships in the name of power politics. What proved to be so fascinating was how similar many of the dictators were. Many had strong wives who shared power, many still believed they were the rightful leader of t ...more
Jack O'sullivan
Nov 23, 2013 rated it liked it
Talk of the devil was a little disappointing. I was looking forward to reading it immensely, however I found the writing of low quality and the insight into the author's studied dictators, limited.
I was left feeling unfulfilled after each chapter/section. The Author's concept - examining dictators - is fantastic, however - excuse my petulance - failed to engage me.
Issues surrounding the rise and fall of dictators are
complicated, the author was, at best, facile in his explanations. I envisio
Claire Croxton
Oct 31, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Mr. Orizio is an Italian journalist who was able to interview seven dictators after they had been deposed and no longer lived in the countries they terrorized. It includes interviews with Uganda’s Idi Amin, the wife of Baby Doc Duvalier of Haiti, Serbian leaders Slobadan Milosevic and his wife, Mire Markovic, and Albanian leaders Enver and Nexhmije Hoxha.

What I find most disturbing about the interviews was how unrepentant the leaders were. The whole concept of “if you think you’re right, then y
Christopher Roth
Aug 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Stellar. Exactly the book I wanted to read (and I have particular interest because it is similar to, but not identical to, my own next book project). I particularly like the fact that the makes the really roundabout ways that he had to pursue to track these SOBs down part of the story. The Jaruzelski interview was especially interesting, and it makes one regard him more as someone who got sucked into a bureaucracy and lost his way morally, rather than someone like Emperor Bokassa, who was clearl ...more
K L McKinley
Oct 30, 2014 rated it liked it
I enjoyed the suspense he described in trying to find some of the subjects to interview.
It's kind of creepy to see how these infamous leaders came to power but probably just as interesting how they fell from that power.
I appreciated being able to see another side of their histories the local evening news and college text books often don't touch on to such depth.
There was one dictator I did stopped reading and moved to the next one because it seemed like the author was going on too long (the mai
Jan 14, 2012 rated it liked it
Really interesting concept, peering into the lives of seven deposed dictators in exile (Uganda's Idi Amin; CAR's Bokassa; Poland's Jaruzelski; Albania's Enver and Nexhmije Hoxha; Haiti's "baby doc" Duvalier; Ethiopia's Mengistu Haile-Mariam; Serbia's Milosevic). Unfortunately, all the interesting insights come through a journalist who is as keen to call attention to his concept and journey as he is to the actual men and women he's examining. Made me realize how much I prefer reading Ryszard Kapu ...more
Feb 06, 2017 rated it liked it
A little uneven, but interesting. All these guys talk a lot like someone we've been dealing with lately. So many delusions of grandeur, lies, and persecution complexes - sad! ...more
Wilfred Berkhof
Jan 06, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
A very interesting subject for a book. Not all interviews are of the same levels, but I guess it depends on the person being interviewed. However the book certainly has its moments when some of these former dictators seem to open up to Orizio.

All in all an interesting read, which will make you want to read more on the background story of the interviewed dictators.
Mar 18, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Best dinner party fodder book ever written.
Apr 06, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Easy but fascinating reading..."chapters" on 7 dictators...Amin, Bokassa, Mengistu, etc ...more
Bill Priest
Sep 07, 2007 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Panamanian Strongmen
I really enjoyed the section on Idi Amin.
Apr 03, 2008 rated it really liked it
"Sir, why did you order the mass killing of your political enemies?"

"Er, um, well, it's kinda complicated..."

Apr 19, 2008 rated it liked it
A journalistic romp with some sate-leaders with less than ethical politics. I contend the story-line from the film "Last King of Scotland" was lifted from Orizio's section in this book. ...more
Mar 25, 2009 rated it it was amazing
FANTASTIC BOOK!!! I loved reading the interviews that the author did with 7 dictators of our time. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
Sep 07, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: politics
All a good book to read for those who may want to find out what had happened to Idi Amin, Jean Bedel Bokassa, Wojciech Jaruzelski, Mrs Hoxha, Baby Doc Duvalier, Colonel Mengistu and Mira Milosevic.
Sep 21, 2012 rated it really liked it
Riccardo revealed the truth of how theses dictators affected their countries in every way possible, the author also knocked on the doors of these ex-dictators & talked to them in person.
Nov 27, 2012 rated it liked it
Reads like an extended New Yorker article. Well-written mix of history, process, and at-times fascinating interviews with some terrifying individuals.
Feb 07, 2013 rated it really liked it
I wish this book had included more pictures of the subjects along with dates as to when the author interviewed them. A couple of maps would have been nice, too.
Greg D'Avis
Sep 19, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: balkans
I got this primarily for the Hoxha chapter, but the whole thing is very good -- done with a dark wit that keeps it from becoming too turgid. Much better than I expected.
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