[Sampler issue] ‘The last moments before the downfall of any dictator are all surprisingly similar’—Read an excerpt from The Dictatorship Syndrome by Alaa Al Aswany

The JRB presents an excerpt from The Dictatorship Syndrome by noted author Alaa Al Aswany.

Alaa Aswany first and foremost reminds the storytellers of the world that at this point in time they all have a moral responsibility to look the reality in the eye and tell the story of the truth. The great story teller cures the current perils of humanity with his words.
—Ece Temelkuran, author of How to Lose a Country: The 7 Steps from Democracy to Dictatorship

The Dictatorship Syndrome
Alaa Al Aswany
(Translated from the Arabic by Russell Harris)
Haus, 2019
Copyright © Alaa Al Aswany

Read the excerpt, from Chapter Four, ‘The Conspiracy Theory’:


[Note that The JRB was given permission to publish this excerpt by the publisher for 30 days only. The excerpt has now been removed.]


About the book

The study of dictatorship in the West has acquired an almost exotic dimension. But authoritarian regimes remain a painful reality for billions of people worldwide. Those who live under them have their freedoms violated and their rights abused. They are subject to arbitrary arrest, torture, corruption, ignorance, and injustice. But what is the nature of dictatorship? How does it take hold? In what conditions and circumstances is it permitted to thrive? And how do dictators retain power, even when reviled and ridiculed by those they govern?

In this considered and at times provocative short book, Alaa Al Aswany tells us that—as with any disease—to understand the syndrome of dictatorship we must first consider the circumstances of its emergence, along with the symptoms and complications it causes in both the people and the dictator.

About the author

Alaa Al Aswany was born in 1957. A dentist by profession, he is the author of the bestselling novels The Yacoubian Building, Chicago, The Automobile Club of Egypt, the novella and short story collection Friendly Fire and the 2011 non-fiction work On the State of Egypt. His work has been translated into thirty-seven languages and published in over one hundred countries. Al Aswany was named by The Times as one of the best fifty authors to have been translated into English in the last fifty years.

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