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Before Evil: Young Lenin, Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini, Mao, and Kim

Before Evil: Young Lenin, Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini, Mao, and Kim

by Brandon K. Gauthier
Before Evil: Young Lenin, Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini, Mao, and Kim

Before Evil: Young Lenin, Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini, Mao, and Kim

by Brandon K. Gauthier


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Should we humanize the world's most inhumane leaders?

Adolf Hitler. Joseph Stalin. Benito Mussolini. Mao Zedong. Kim Il Sung. Vladimir Lenin. These cruel dictators wrote their names on the pages of history in the blood of countless innocent victims. Yet they themselves were once young people searching for their place in the world, dealing with challenges many of us face—parental authority, education, romance, loss—and doing so in ways that might be uncomfortably familiar.

Historian Brandon K. Gauthier has created a fascinating work—epic yet intimate, well-researched but immensely readable, clear-eyed and empathetic—looking at the lives of these six dictators, with a focus on their youths. We watch Lenin’s older brother executed at the hands of the Tsar’s police—an event that helped radicalize this overachieving high-schooler. We observe Stalin grappling with the death of his young, beautiful wife. We see Hitler’s mother mourning the loss of three young children—and determined that her first son to survive infancy would find his place in the world.

The purpose isn’t to excuse or simply explain these horrible men, but rather to treat them with the empathy they themselves too often lacked. We may prefer to hold such lives at arm’s length so as to demonize them at will, but this book reminds us that these monstrous rulers were also human beings—and perhaps more relatable than we’d like.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781948954617
Publisher: Tortoise Books
Publication date: 04/26/2022
Pages: 454
Sales rank: 675,214
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.02(d)

About the Author

Brandon K. Gauthier completed his doctorate in Modern History at Fordham Universityin New York City in 2016. He is the Director of Global Education at The Derryfield School and an Adjunct Professor of History for Fordham University. He speaks passionately, and loudly. He frequently asks his students to yell “WHO CARES?” and then tell him why he’s wrong about everything. When not teaching and writing, he listens to music at loud volumes and walks long distances. Historical conundrums keep him up at night. He lives with his wife and two daughters in New Hampshire. BEFORE EVIL is his first book.

Table of Contents

Introduction 9

This is about Us 11

Primary Historical Actors 21

Part 1 23

What Volodia Lost 25

Benito's Extinction 37

Adolf, Doom, and Drugs 49

The Mind of Soso 63

Renzhi Rebels against Life 77

Reality Stares down Song-Ju 91

Part 2 103

Meet Volodia's Parents-And Sasha 105

Benito, Dad, and Victor Hugo 117

Klara's Love for Adolf 133

Keke Sacrifices for Soso 145

Renzhi is a Maddening Child 155

Song-Ju's Christian Clan 167

Part 3 179

Tragedy Strikes Volodia's Family 181

Benito Takes the Stage 197

Adolf and Gustl 211

Love and Loss for Soso 229

Renzhi Becomes the Hero 243

Courage, Terror, and Song-Ju 259

Conclusion 269

The End Has No End 271

Notes 279

Works Cited 388

Index 432

Gratitude 448

About the Author 452

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