KC Johnson

Roundtable Cultural Seminars: Dictators & Tyrants

This Seminar will explore the concepts of dictatorship and tyranny in the modern world. After beginning with a historical sweep, it will discuss the emergence of totalitarianism in the 20th century, with sessions focused on Germany and the Soviet Union. It then will examine tyrants in Eastern Europe, East Asia, and the Middle East, before concluding with some thoughts on tyranny in the contemporary environment.

Session One: The Historical Concept of Tyranny

Session Two: Nationalism, Dictatorship, & Tyranny

Session Three: Hitler

Session Four: Stalin & Stalinism

Session Five: Spreading of Tyranny

Session Six: Dictatorship & Tyranny in the Contemporary World
Reading List

  • Anne Applebaum, Gulag: A History
  • Anne Applebaum, Red Famine: Stalin’s War on Ukraine
  • Hannah Arendt, The Origins of Totalitarianism
  • Dennis Deletant, Ceausescu and the Securitate: Coercion and Dissent in Romania, 1965-1989
  • Frank Dikkoter, Mao’s Great Famine: The History of China’s Most Devastating Catastrophe, 1958-1962
  • William Duiker, Ho Chi Minh: A Life
  • Laura Englestein, Russia in Flames: War, Revolution, Civil War, 1914 – 1921
  • Piero Gleijeses, Visions of Freedom
  • Ian Kershaw, Hitler, Vols. 1, 2
  • Stephen Kotkin, Stalin Volume I: Paradoxes of Power, 1878-1928
  • Stephen Kotkin, Stalin Volume II: Waiting for Hitler, 1929-1941
  • Sean McMeekin, The Russian Revolution
  • Catherine Merridale, Lenin on the Train
  • Simon Sebag Montifiore, Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar
  • Norman Rich, Hitler’s War Aims
  • Victor Sebesteyn, Lenin: The Man, the Dictator, and the Master of Terror
  • Philip Short, Pol Pot: Anatomy of a Nightmare
  • Timothy Snyder, Bloodlands: Between Hitler and Stalin
  • Timothy Snyder, On Tyranny
  • Nicholas Stargardt, The German War: A Nation Under Arms, 1939-1945
  • Volker Ullrich, Hitler: Ascent, 1889-1939
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