Richard M. Tater (go ahead, you can just call him "Dick") was born long before you were, to a poor farming family. A struggling shoeshine boy through his childhood, Dick entered the military as a young conscript, where he rose through the ranks, and was frequently called upon to take on the responsibilities of his leaders as they suffered unexplained and often tragic deaths. Before long he was a general, and when the president one day grew surprisingly, deathly ill — and then passed away without warning — Dick seized power.
You know Dick. He imprisoned your brother for his involvement with the "Young Leader Chess Brigade", and when your mother went to complain about his unjust arrest, she never returned home. The national paper publishes only flattery about him; his ministers stumble over themselves to serve him. The generals fear him. No one is at ease around him, and no one dares join any party but his. Dick reads your email, listens to your phone calls, and knows who you'd vote for, if there were ever an election. His knowledge has fortified many an aspiring tyrant, as it will you. He is the doting, essential, father of the nation.
Randall Wood, author, engineer, and teacher, has lived in Asia, Africa, and Latin America for most of his adult life, working in engineering, construction, agronomy, diplomacy, and teaching. Much of the inspiration for this book came from personal experience and observation. He is the author of the award winning Moon Handbook: Nicaragua, eds. 1-4, and Living Abroad in Nicaragua, eds. 1 and 2.
He writes, "Time and time again, when the media would report some new political atrocity, I would mutter, 'Well, that's a move straight out of the Dictator's Handbook.' If I said to myself, 'Next, the president will insist on constitutional reform,' I was too frequently right. Finally, I began to wonder if there truly was some sort of Handbook these political clowns were using to organize their governments and plot their next moves. And now, finally, there is." Writing this book has been a sort of personal catharsis.
Carmine DeLuca, writer and history enthusiast, has long cultivated an interest in the authoritarians of every stripe. In part this fascination stems from his personal life -- a Bonapartist father, an aunt named after the Battle of Adowa, and a grandfather and great uncle in Mussolini's army. Two decades of reading and thinking on the historical significance of "great" men plus a fantastic library of books on the Romans, Fascists, Napoleon, Greeks, and beyond have prepared him for the writing of this book.
No man is an island. No dictator, either. Many thanks to Happy Toast, the artist who created Richard M. Tater, our illustrious host. Randy's daughter immediately pointed out, "But Rich has no nose!" That's because his nose is in everyone else's business. Heidi Jordan at Detail 37 designed our lovely front and back covers, which gave rise to the design of the graphical elements for the rest of this site.
We had a wealth of help from friends and colleagues who agreed to read early drafts of the book, spotting errors, inconsistencies, and crappy writing. Among the things they spotted were one president's first name, one major convention, and a whole raft of embarrassing spelling errors. Many thanks to you all for your help, encouragement, and constructive feedback.