Idi Amin, Enver Hoxha, Fidel Castro, and Pol Pot Through the Eyes of Their Cooks by Witold Szabłowski, “,“How to Feed a Dictator: Saddam Hussein, Idi Amin, Enver Hoxha, Fidel Castro, and Pol Pot Through the Eyes of Their Cooks by Witold Szabłowski,
Wonderful exploration of the memory of some of the most brutal dictators the world has ever encountered, as told by their personal chefs. All that genocide, and torture sure makes those men hungry, and sometimes we often forget that these terrible humans are still humans.
The stories are quite incredible. Some of the chefs still adore the former dictator they worked for while others feared him. It was interesting hearing these intimate stories of the behind the scenes daily life of these terrible people.
For example, I loved the tales of how Saddam Hussein was a jokester with his chef. He would yell at the chef if the food was not to his liking and make him pay 50 dinars to him for the food he wasted. Of course, on other days where he loved the food, he might tip him 150 dinars.
Witold is great at packaging these stories in a readable narrative. I liked how his chapter titles were all related to the the favorite food of the dictator and laid out to resemble a menu.
I was first introduced to this author through his book ““Dancing Bears: True Stories of People Nostalgic for Life Under Tyranny””. Witold has a real knack for this sort of historical/ethnographic journalism.
This book really reminded me to a bunch of other books about dictators by another Polish journalist, Ryszard Kapuściński. If you liked this book, I bet you’d probaby enjoy Kapuscinski’s ““Shah of Shahs”” and ““The Emperor””.
Rating: ★★★★★ Book #49 in my #ReadingChallenge2021 #Books #BookReview #WitoldSzablowski #dictator #cooking #journalism #FidelCastro #SaddamHussein #NonFiction
Total Reading time: 3hr17min”,