STRONGMAN is a much different kind of history book than I ever had in school. Best for sixth grade and up, it’s a compelling and honest look at how one person can gain the admiration of their people, even while doing despicable acts. Here’s the background from the author’s website:

This is the story of the rise to power of five of the most deadly dictators of the 20th century — Mussolini, Hitler, Stalin, Mao Zedong, and Saddam Hussein.

In addition to telling how these men took unlimited power, brought one-party rule to their nations, and were responsible for the deaths of millions of people, the book offers a brief history of Democracy and discusses the present threat to democratic institutions around the world.

In a time when Democracy is under assault across the globe, it is more important than ever to understand how a Strongman takes power and how quickly democracy can vanish –even as millions cheer its death.

The information is spread out over 8 chapters. One chapter for each of the dictators and the remaining three looking at democracy from it’s beginning to present day and whether it can be sustained in our present world. I read it from cover to cover, but you could take it on in any order. Photographs from each leader’s time period accompany the text.

Each of the dictator chapters begin with a handy timeline of their life. Stories of their upbringings along with their rise to power are nothing short of fascinating. The final chapter is a warning about the difficulties in keeping democracy. For any teen researching these men, they should begin with STRONGMAN, a valuable resource for our times.


Kenneth C. Davis is the New York Times–bestselling author of America’s Hidden History and Don’t Know Much About® History, which gave rise to the Don’t Know Much About® series of books for adults and children. He is also the author of the critically acclaimed In the Shadow of Liberty, which was an ALA Notable Book and a finalist for the YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction, as well as More Deadly Than War, which was named a Washington Post Best Children’s Book of the Month. A frequent guest on national television and radio and a Ted-Ed Educator, Davis lives in New York City.


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About Greg Pattridge

Climbing another mountain...always striving to reach the next peak in my life and career.
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4 Responses to STRONGMAN

  1. Danielle Hammelef says:

    I read and learned so much from this book. In a way it scared me because of the way Trump is refusing to recognize our election process and trying to circumvent the law. I have passed this book along to friends as it definitely is not the history lessons I ever had in school, but would have loved to have had–less memorization and more application and insight into leaders.

  2. Very timely book! Immediately checked out the authors website to read more. I want to get a copy, as I know my husband would really enjoy this recommendation! Isn’t in our library yet.

  3. I will have to get hold of this book. It sounds so important, timely, and fascinating. Thanks for the heads up. I hadn’t heard of it.

  4. Completely Full Bookshelf says:

    This sounds like a fascinating and valuable book! I’ve read one of Davis’s books for adults, Don’t Know Much About History, and it was very interesting, so this must be great as well! Thanks for the great review!

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