Jenny (Reading Envy)'s Reviews > How to Feed a Dictator: Saddam Hussein, Idi Amin, Enver Hoxha, Fidel Castro, and Pol Pot Through the Eyes of Their Cooks

How to Feed a Dictator by Witold Szabłowski
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This book doesn't come out until the end of April but it hit the spot for a different sort of read (and my first read of the year) connecting the Cambodian novel I finished on New Year's Eve to my new focus on the Middle East.

"Witold Szablowski tracked down the personal chefs of five dictators known for the oppression and massacre of their own citizens: Iraq’s Saddam Hussein, Uganda’s Idi Amin, Albania’s Enver Hoxha, Cuba’s Fidel Castro, and Cambodia’s Pol Pot—and listened to their stories over sweet-and-sour soup, goat-meat pilaf, bottles of rum, and games of gin rummy."

The stories are unnerving sometimes in their details but sometimes because of the perspective of the chef (ranging from fear to mental deterioration to complicity to... love?) It's an interesting combination of politics and food. The author provides considerable context in which to understand the situations involved.

This comes out April 28, 2020 from Penguin. I had an early copy through Edelweiss.
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Reading Progress

January 1, 2020 – Started Reading
January 1, 2020 – Shelved
January 2, 2020 –
99.0%
January 2, 2020 – Finished Reading
January 7, 2020 – Shelved as: middle-east-2020
January 7, 2020 – Shelved as: around-the-world
January 7, 2020 – Shelved as: reviewcopy
January 7, 2020 – Shelved as: foodie
January 7, 2020 – Shelved as: location-iraq
January 7, 2020 – Shelved as: location-cambodia
January 7, 2020 – Shelved as: location-cuba
January 7, 2020 – Shelved as: location-albania
January 7, 2020 – Shelved as: location-uganda
January 7, 2020 – Shelved as: read2020

Comments Showing 1-5 of 5 (5 new)

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message 1: by Nicola (new) - added it

Nicola Part of me wants not to read about such (comparatively) mundane aspects of these dictators' lives. And yet, it's somehow intriguing. I worry about what that says about me. :)


Jenny (Reading Envy) Nicola wrote: "Part of me wants not to read about such (comparatively) mundane aspects of these dictators' lives. And yet, it's somehow intriguing. I worry about what that says about me. :)"
It was interesting and also kind of sad.


message 3: by Tanner (new) - added it

Tanner Do people name Witold always grow up to write non-fiction that tells big stories through mundane trivia? From your review, this book really reminds me of Witold Rybczynski's stuff, and those are the only two places I've ever encountered that name.


message 4: by Tanner (new) - added it

Tanner *named


Jenny (Reading Envy) Tanner wrote: "Do people name Witold always grow up to write non-fiction that tells big stories through mundane trivia? From your review, this book really reminds me of Witold Rybczynski's stuff, and those are th..."

It might be in the name, but the second Witold seems interested in architecture while this one studies oppression.


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