Sarah's Stars

Laura Scandiffio. Evil Masters:
The Frightening World of Tyrants
Annick Press  $14.95  ISBN: 1-55037-894-5  230 pg.
Reviewed by Sarah, Age 14

“Absolute power corrupts absolutely.”  - Lord Acton, historian.

Articles about distinctive leaders from all over the globe and history are shared in this unusual book. Laura Scandiffio has compiled an amazing amount of facts into these seven appealing stories. Maps, pictures and trivia inserts are a part of each story, as well as many remarkable quotes, such as the one noted above.

Generally, I would not read this book like a novel, ‘too much like history class’, but I would definitely recommend it to anyone doing a history project, or studying tyrannical leaders. It is unquestionably more interesting than your run-of-the-mill textbook, reference book, or encyclopedia. The stories are enlivened with rich details and facts about each man, from their rise to power to their dramatic fall. However, one thing I noticed was that all the rulers were men! Not a single woman tyrant was mentioned in the book. Maybe there were no woman tyrants, I don’t know. Perhaps the female tyrants used more subtle means to achieve their ends, but we certainly don’t hear about them in history books. Perchance I am wondering more because I just found out recently (and not from a book, I might add) that native women were chiefs as often as the men were, and they too went on spirit walks/dream quests, and hunted alongside their male kinsmen. This may well have led me to wonder if women, perhaps less visible than their male counterparts, changed the course of history with their tyrannical ways as well. I would be very interested to read a book on this topic.
I enjoyed Evil Masters, and would rate it four stars. It is a book that should be read intermittently, one story at a time. I find that too much factual information results in ‘overload’, and I go looking for something more relaxing!


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