Big Caesars and Little Caesars: How They Rise and How They Fall - From Julius Caesar to Boris Johnson (Paperback)
  • Big Caesars and Little Caesars: How They Rise and How They Fall - From Julius Caesar to Boris Johnson (Paperback)
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Big Caesars and Little Caesars: How They Rise and How They Fall - From Julius Caesar to Boris Johnson (Paperback)

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Paperback 304 Pages
Published: 06/06/2024
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Waterstones Says

From Julius Caesar to Boris Johnson, the political commentator and author of Making Nice delivers a trenchant history of the strongman, defence of parliamentary politics and roadmap back to constitutional government.

There is a comforting illusion shared by historians and political commentators from Fukuyama back to Macaulay, Mill and Marx, that history progresses in a nice straight line towards liberal democracy or socialism, despite the odd hiccup.

In reality, every democracy, however sophisticated or stable it may look, has been attacked or actually destroyed by a would-be Caesar, from Ancient Greece to the present day. Marx was wrong. This Caesarism is not an absurd throwback, it is an ever-present danger.

There are Big Caesars who set out to achieve total social control and Little Caesars who merely want to run an agreeable kleptocracy without opposition: from Julius Caesar and Oliver Cromwell through Napoleon and Bolivar, to Mussolini, Salazar, De Gaulle and Trump. The saga of Boris Johnson and Brexit frequently crops up in this author's narrative as a vivid, if Lilliputian instance of the same phenomenon.

The final part of this book describes how and why would-be Caesars come to grief, from the Gunpowder Plot to Trump’s march on the Capitol and the ejection of Boris Johnson by his own MPs, and ends with a defence of the grubby glories of parliamentary politics and a thought-provoking roadmap of the way back to constitutional government.

Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
ISBN: 9781399409728
Number of pages: 304
Dimensions: 198 x 129 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS

Highly informative and hugely entertaining…a reminder that dictators have long been, and continue to be, a threat to democracy. - Forbes

The power of this needle-sharp book lies in the acuity of its observations and in its ability to zoom out and see modern politicians in broader context, bringing something both fresh and timeless to an otherwise well-worn subject. - The Guardian

Wry, informative but deadly – a great book. - Will Hutton

Mount's prose is enjoyable and some of the vignettes are a delight. [The Caesars] make for compelling reading. - The Sunday Times

Mount’s prose is vivid, erudite and highly opinionated… [he] dissects all these villains in entertaining style… his range of historical reference points is impressive. - Irish Independent

Pass deep historical knowledge through the silkiest of minds and deliver the product onto the page with the most fluent of pens, and you find the combination of gifts which make Ferdie Mount pre-eminent among the political commentariat of our day. He has created a book that will endure in 50 years' time when students of British Politics will still struggle to understand how the supposedly most mature political system in the world could have placed Boris Johnson in Downing Street for three years. This is the volume they will have to read first. - Peter Hennessy

Always absorbing and often bitterly funny, Ferdinand Mount’s survey traces with characteristic panache an unedifying line of populist opportunists from classical times down to the shoddy and sinister figures of Johnson and Trump. His eloquent concluding call for the restoration and safeguarding of parliamentary authority has never been more urgently needed. - Roy Foster, Emeritus Professor of Irish History at the University of Oxford

A wonderfully wry field guide to autocrats. With tremendous wit and wisdom, the former head of Margaret Thatcher’s policy unit identifies the qualities particular to dictators – and warns against consigning such people to history… Mount, learned to the pink tips of his ears, knows so much, and what he didn’t before, he has found out. Mount’s considerable journalistic skills deployed here in the cause of concision, the pricking of pomposity and, sometimes, his own outrage…He is especially good on Johnson…Mount is beautifully wry in this book, on top of everything else. - Observer

…a fast-paced and impassioned essay. - Sunday Telegraph

Mount is an entertaining guide to dictatorship. - Book of the week, The Times

A wonderfully wry field guide to autocrats. - guardian.com

[Mount] is one of the best contemporary essayists in English. He writes elegantly with an occasional brutal turn of phrase. - The Tablet

Ferdinand Mount strolls with effortless erudition round the careers of Caesar, Bonaparte, Hitler and even Indira Gandhi. - The Oldie

A thoughtful and cogent account of the Johnson premiership. - Literary Review

A welcome addition to what constitutes the most vital of contemporary discussions. - Irish Times

Delicious work, beautifully and acerbically written by a cultured man of a kind achingly rare in our world of intellectual short cuts and tawdry soundbites. - Wall Street Journal

Those interested in how someone such as Boris Johnson could have been responsible for what was possibly the greatest foreign-policy own-goal in Great Britain’s history would do well to read Mount’s book. - Foreign Policy

A splendid book..articulated with passion and expressed with powerful rhetoric. - The New Statesman

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Hardback

“Interesting, but hard to read.”

This books has nuggets that are interesting and thought-provoking, but it jumps around a lot and I'm finding it quite difficult to get through. People with a more extensive knowledge of history and politics might... More

Hardback edition
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