RaveThe Irish Times (UK)Nobel Peace Prize winner Maria Ressa’s powerful new autobiography, How to Stand Up to a Dictator, weaves together three compelling narratives ... [Ressa] does not explicitly, however, give us a silver bullet for defeating violent strongmen ... In the end, what she proffers is a very simple idea — moral inviolability. Integrity, conscience, soul. It is an old-fashioned notion, largely discredited in our fast-paced, materialistic culture. But in the end, as this inspirational book demonstrates, it is truly the only thing that can save us ... At a time when the world faces a stark choice between authoritarian leaders and those with the courage to stand up to them, Maria Ressa is an indispensable guide in showing us the path from our troubled present to a better future.
PositiveThe Irish Times (IRELAND)In How To Be A Dictator, historian Frank Dikötter provides a timely reminder of just how destructive toxic insecurity, and its corollary, pathological narcissism, can become ... Nothing in the sorry sagas of Trump and Brexit compares remotely with the atrocities committed by the dictators in Dikötter’s new book. But in terms of the dynamics of narcissistic authoritarianism, there is much in How To Be A Dictator that is of critical contemporary relevance ... History only makes sense if we understand the psychological pathology that underlies it, and our own propensity for partaking in such pathology. We need a clear-eyed understanding of history as a recurring series of monumental follies, led by cretins who duped or forced millions of us into humiliating childish submission. Only then can we hope to avoid the repetition. Dikötter, in his previous outstanding books on Mao, and again here in How To Be a Dictator, is in the vanguard of historians opening our eyes to this fundamental truth.
MixedThe Irish Times (UK)... appears at a moment in history when it is becoming ever more apparent that many of the ideas we use to construct our societies are no longer working, including foundational ideas of economics, politics and religion. The overarching lesson that emerges from the book is that further progress for our species will depend on our collective attempts to overcome wrong ideas and act for the benefit of humanity on what we have learned to be true ... While Out of Our Minds sets out the diversity of ideas that humanity has concocted, and makes clear the contingency and potential destructiveness of many of our most cherished thoughts, it says little about how we are to go about deciding which ideas will enhance our humanity and which ideas are leading us to destruction.
PositiveThe Irish Times (UK)... does not explore solutions to the problems posed by the weaponisation of social media by today’s populist authoritarians. But it does set out, eloquently and movingly, what is at stake. Pomerantsev is an accomplished storyteller and is adept at the use of visual imagery ... essential reading on this online battle between love and hate, and powerful testimony that in this crucial fight, social media platforms can no longer be allowed to sit on the fence.
PositiveThe Irish TimesThe stark conclusion that emerges from his book...is that while individuals often learn from crisis, countries seldom do ... In perhaps the most fascinating section of the book, Diamond identifies the accelerating deterioration of compromise, not only in the political sphere but in all areas of life, as the most ominous problem threatening American society today ... Rather than easing our anxieties over the current global malaise, however, Diamond’s book serves as a warning that a return of the ghosts of history can be a very real consequence of our collective refusal to learn.