The Gresham’s History Department Book Club discussed Frank Dikötter’s ‘Dictators’

On Wednesday 19th January, the inaugural meeting of the Gresham’s History Department Book Club took place. Over Christmas, pupils had been reading Frank Dikötter’s ‘Dictators’. They met to discuss the implications of the book and discussed why there were so many dictators in the twentieth century, why cults of personality mattered so much and why secular ideologies so frequently used religious and mystical methods and practices to uphold the cult of the leader. Discussions ranged over the eight personality cults of Mussolini, Hitler, Stalin, Mao Zedong, North Korea’s Kim Il-sung, Haiti’s “Papa Doc” Duvalier, Romania’s Nicolae Ceauşescu and Ethiopia’s Mengistu Haile Mariam. The group will continue to explore the latest and most interesting historical writing. The next meeting takes place in the Summer Term, when they will be discussing ‘Empireland: How Imperialism Has Shaped Modern Britain’ by Sathnam Sanghera. The History Department Book Club is open to pupils in all years.