VOYA, February 2014 (Vol. 36, No. 6)
- Victoria Vogel
This book is part of is a well-written, comprehensive series that will complement any school or public library collection. Notorious Tyrants profiles sixty of history’s notable, overwhelming rulers/military dictators/political leaders from the ancient to the modern world. Each entry is accompanied by a brief chronology of the important events in their lives. Their achievements are given as much weight as their defeats, and the presentation of their lives is objective and insightful. Cawthorne takes great care in presenting each of these figures in a way that allows the reader to understand their motivations and their notoriety. The titles in this series would fit well in a secondary school collection. Advanced readers will find them useful sources for research papers. They are highly recommended for their quality. Physically, these books are slightly taller than most (by about an inch) and may not fit on standard shelves without some accommodations. (Great People in History) Reviewer: Victoria Vogel; Ages 15 to 18.
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—This chronological look at 55 men and 5 women covers a wide range of geographical areas and time periods, although half the individuals are from the 20th century. Unfortunately, Cawthorne never defines the word "tyrant" or explains his selection process. His list is sure to offend-while all of the featured subjects exercised absolute power, they didn't necessarily do so with nefarious intent, and many are national heroes. Most readers would not mention Peter the Great or Napoleon in the same breath as Stalin, Hitler, or Idi Amin. The further reading is ridiculous, with only one general title, which isn't generally available, and four individual biographies, one on Mao Tse-Tung, who isn't even included in the book. There is no introduction or conclusion, and the entries are unbalanced. The author also assumes a vast general knowledge, providing little to no historical context; the result is an often confusing jumble of names, dates, and places. The book contains numerous errors, typos, and internal inconsistencies, and none of the many quotations are footnoted. The few illustrations are primarily unappealing black-and-white reproductions and there are no maps.—Ann W. Moore, Schenectady County Public Library, NY