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Reading: Jay Nordlinder & Sebastian Junger

David Locke Hall
 
Jay Nordlinger
In Conversation with Sebastian Junger

Children of Monsters: An Inquiry into the Sons and Daughters of Dictators 


February 22 at 7:00pm
What’s it like to be the son or daughter of a dictator? A monster on the Stalin level? What’s it like to bear a name synonymous with oppression, terror, and evil?

Jay Nordlinger set out to answer that question, and does so in this book. He surveys 20 dictators in all. They are the worst of the worst: Stalin, Mao, Idi Amin, Pol Pot, Saddam Hussein, and so on. The book is not about them, really, though of course they figure in it. It’s about their children.

Some of them are absolute loyalists. They admire, revere, or worship their father. Some of them actually succeed their father as dictator—as in North Korea, Syria, and Haiti. Some of them have doubts. A couple of them become full-blown dissenters, even defectors. A few of the daughters have the experience of having their husband killed by their father. Most of these children are rocked by war, prison, exile, or other upheaval.

Obviously, the children have things in common. But they are also individuals, making of life what they can. The main thing they have in common is this: They have been dealt a very, very unusual hand.

What would you do, if you were the offspring of an infamous dictator, who lords it over your country?

An early reader of this book said, “There’s an opera on every page”: a drama, a tragedy (or even a comedy). Another reader said he had read the chapter on Bokassa “with my eyes on stalks.”

Meet these characters for yourself. Marvel, shudder, and ponder.

“A magnetic page-turner that nonetheless is complex and deep.”
—Mark Helprin, author of Winter’s Tale, A Soldier of the Great War, etc.

“Nordlinger’s exceptional investigation into the children of 20 modern dictators grips and convinces.”
—Andrew Roberts, author of The Storm of War, Napoleon, etc.

Jay Nordlinger is a senior editor of National Review and a book fellow of the National Review Institute. He writes about a variety of subjects, including politics, foreign affairs, and the arts. He is the music critic for The New Criterion. Since 2002, he has hosted a series of public interviews at the Salzburg Festival. For the National Review website, he writes a column called “Impromptus.” With Mona Charen, he hosts the Need to Know podcast, and he also hosts a podcast called “Q&A.” In 2011, he filmed “The Human Parade, with Jay Nordlinger,” a TV series bringing hour-long interviews with various personalities. His latest book is Children of Monsters: An Inquiry into the Sons and Daughters of Dictators. He is also the author of Peace, They Say, a history of the Nobel Peace Prize. Some 100 pieces are gathered in Here, There & Everywhere: Collected Writings of Jay Nordlinger. A native Michigander, Nordlinger lives in New York.
Sebastian Junger is the New York Times bestselling author of War, The Perfect Storm and A Death in Belmont. Together with Tim Hetherington, he directed the documentary Restrepo, which won the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance. He is a contributing editor to Vanity Fair and has been awarded a National Magazine Award and an SAIS Novartis Prize for journalism. He lives in New York City.
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