If you’re looking for some tyrant-exalting text but for whatever reason are made uncomfortable by the rhetorical (and practical) excesses of, say, Hitler or Mao—well, this is your ticket.
Books by dictators tend to the hortatory: Together you and I can solve the problem; together we’ll lead the world; together we’ll destroy those pesky people next door. Oops. Scratch that last one, for, says The Leader, “All peoples shall have right to existence.” Except, maybe, the people who live in Tel Aviv. Moreover, “The members of Jamahiriyan society”—that is, those who live in sort-of-socialist Libya—“are liberated from any feudalism.” Except, maybe, the slaves who travel across the Libyan Sahara, whose paths are far from The Guide’s green coastline. All of this is the usual cult-of-personality stuff with some curious twists, as when Gaddafi muses on a future that belongs to “the black race,” save that the blacks are “backward” and “sluggish in a climate which is always hot,” and when he assures his gentle readers that “to ignore natural differences between man and woman and mix their roles is . . . hostile to the laws of nature, destructive to human life, and a genuine cause for the wretchedness of human social life.” Once fond of funding people who blew up other people, Gaddafi is now our friend—or so assures French political scientist and hagiographer Jouve, who wonders, “Who is this man who, after making the world tremble with fear, now arouses respect and even praise?” No small amount of that praise comes from the professor himself, who has known Gaddafi for a long time and wants us to know that “his charisma is such that it electrifies his audience,” which makes it all the more tragic that anyone should have ever doubted him.
Old leopard, new spots, groomed by an acolyte.