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1. Contemporary 2. Late Modern 2019 Asia ★★★☆☆ Reviews

Big Sister, Little Sister, Red Sister

★★★☆☆ (2019)
This is a book about the three most famous sisters in Chinese history: the Soong sisters. They were international celebrities: highly educated, politically pivotal and ridiculously rich. They embodied the changes and tensions of early twentieth century China as the country set its political engine-room to warp speed 9…

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1. Contemporary 2. Late Modern 2019 ★★★☆☆ Global Reviews

How to Be a Dictator

★★★☆☆ (2019)
Frank Dikotter’s ‘Dictators: the Cult of Personality in the Twentieth Century’ is a highly readable potted history of eight twentieth century dictators, charting the rise and (more often than not) the fall of Mussolini, Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Kim Il-sung, Duvalier, Caucescu and Mengistu respectively, in whose dictatorships the cult of personality played a prominent part, albeit in different forms.

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2019 5. Ancient ★★★☆☆ Europe Reviews

Ten Ceasars

★★★☆☆ (2019)
A week ago I went to see a blockbuster exhibition about an accused arsonist who murdered his wife and his mum. The star of the show (running until October 2021 at the British Museum in London) is of course the Roman emperor Nero. But was he really a bad guy? Maybe he was quite nice to the people who he didn’t kill? And did he or didn’t he burn down Rome to build himself a giant palace on the ashes?