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Announcing: the Dictator's Handbook

After three solid years of writing and research, I'm thrilled to announce my latest book: The Dictator's Handbook: a practical manual for the aspiring tyrant. It's available for purchase at Amazon, Barnes&Noble, and on the iPad and iPhone through the iBookstore. The paper version (soft cover) is reasonably priced and looks stellar, if I may say so myself.

What a journey it's been, and what a thrill it is to have seen this project from its genesis to its conclusion.

It began sometime in 2008—2009, while living and working overseas and paying close attention to current events in the many developing countries that interest me. Not only has the definition of "dictatorship" evolved, but so have the methods: it's not perfectly plausible to call yourself a democracy while doing everything possible to curtail the power balancing of democratic methods. Likewise, as I began looking into it, I began to realize these leaders are all basically using the same tricks.

“Surely,” I thought, “these clowns must be all using the same manual.” And as Nicaragua's Daniel Ortega called for constitutional reform to circumvent presidential term limits – right after Hugo Chavez, natch – I found myself yelling, “That move is straight out of the Dictator's Handbook!” So what must that book look like? Clearly Ortega has read it, as has Chavez. Kim Jong Il definitely had a copy. Who else? The list began to grow.

As I researched, my notes grew. Before long, I had hundreds of references in dozens of journals. The newspapers were full of anecdotes, and a bevy of scholarly journals filled in the gaps. Some days I just had to look around me, and my own day-to-day work experience provided lots of grist for the mill as well. The manuscript grew over three years to 320 pages, 500 bibliographic references, and 100 footnotes. Not bad! The book strikes a careful tone that's deadly serious, but funny enough to make a serious subject fun and maybe even funny. Our tourguide through all the barbarities is Richard M. Tater™ (go on, you can just call him “Dick”), and there are over a dozen gorgeous illustrations through the chapters.

Like any book discussing politics, the conversation continues long after the book goes to press, and there's now a lively forum at You are more than welcome to join. Curious? Care to give it a read? Head straight over to this page for links to major outlets, and if you've got a Kindle, Nook, Sony Reader, or iPad, you can download it directly to your device. On this site, the book's home page is

Happy reading!


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