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Witold Szabłowski

How to Feed a Dictator

Saddam Hussein, Idi Amin, Enver Hoxha, Fidel Castro, and Pol Pot Through the Eyes of Their Cooks

Penguin 2020

New Books in Arts & LettersNew Books in FoodNew Books in Political ScienceNew Books in PoliticsNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books Network May 7, 2020 Allen Salkin

If you’re a despot, there are two people you can’t lie to, your doctor and your chef. This is one of the nuggets explained...

If you’re a despot, there are two people you can’t lie to, your doctor and your chef. This is one of the nuggets explained to me by Witold Szabłowski, author of How to Feed a Dictator: Saddam Hussein, Idi Amin, Enver Hoxha, Fidel Castro, and Pol Pot Through the Eyes of Their Cooks (Penguin, 2020), translated from the Polish by Antonia Lloyd-Jones.

The author, a tireless journalist, used his skills at getting people to talk and his knowledge of cooking to convince those who served some of the 20th century’s most infamous tyrants to open up about the men who employed them, what they ate, and what food can tell you about power. An enlightening, terrifying and deliciously informative read. Since I co-authored a book about Donald Trump, we had some things to discuss about cheeseburgers and fries as well.