Book Review: Revolutionary Monsters: Five Men Who Turned Liberation Into Tyranny

Donald T. Critchlow

Revolutionary Monsters: Five Men Who Turned Liberation into Tyranny, Donald T. Critchlow. ISBN: 978-1-68451-124-2, eISBN: 978-1-68451-149-5, Regnery History.

All sparked movements in the name of liberating their people from their oppressors—capitalists, foreign imperialists, or dictators in their own country. These revolutionaries rallied the masses in the name of freedom, only to become more tyrannical than those they replaced.

Much has been written about the anatomy of revolution from Edmund Burke to Crane Brinton Crane, Franz Fanon, and contemporary theorists of revolution found in the modern academy. Yet what is missing is a dissection of the revolutionary minds that destroyed the old for the creation of a more harmful new.

Revolutionary Monsters presents a collective biography of five modern day revolutionaries who came into power calling for the liberation of the people only to end up killing millions of people in the name of revolution:  Lenin (Russia), Mao (China), Castro (Cuba), Mugabe (Zimbabwe), and Khomeini (Iran). Revolutionary Monsters explores basic questions about the revolutionary personality, and examines how these revolutionaries came to envision themselves as prophets of a new age.

“Captivated by liberation movements, American youth idolize the political revolutionaries who have led them–even those who are among the evilest men in history. And those who should know better encourage these utopian fantasies rather than tell their naïve followers the truth about their monstrous idols. The twentieth century was filled with men who promised freedom but delivered tyranny and death on a massive scale. They purported to liberate their people from their oppressors–whether capitalists, foreign imperialists, infidels, or autocrats–but subjected them to the most comprehensive dictatorships the world has ever seen.”

“Political charlatans like these are hardly a thing of the past. Warning that heady revolutionary dreams are bound to end in misery, Critchlow offers a steadying tonic against the intoxicating power of ideology.”  Donald T. Critchlow

About the Author:  Donald T. Critchlow is the Katzin Family Professor at Arizona State University and the author of several books, including In the Defense of Populism: Protest and American Democracy (2020), Republican Character: From Nixon to Reagan (2018); The Conservative Ascendancy: How the Republican Right Rose to Power in Modern America (2011); Phyllis Schlafly and Grassroots Conservatism: A Woman’s Crusade (2005); and Intended Consequences: Birth Control, Abortion, and the Federal Government in Modern America (1999). He leads the Program in Political History and Leadership at Arizona State University, a certificate program that provides students with a robust civic education.

Carol graduated from Riverside White Cross School of Nursing in Columbus, Ohio and received her diploma as a registered nurse. She attended Bowling Green State University where she received a Bachelor of Arts Degree in History and Literature. She attended the University of Toledo, College of Nursing, and received a Master’s of Nursing Science Degree as an Educator.

She has traveled extensively, is a photographer, and writes on medical issues. Carol has three children RJ, Katherine, and Stephen – one daughter-in-law; Katie – two granddaughters; Isabella Marianna and Zoe Olivia – and one grandson, Alexander Paul. She also shares her life with husband Gordon Duff, many cats, and two rescue pups.

Carol’s Archives 2009-2013
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  1. The 20th century history of China is a fascinating study of conflicting revolutionary movements. But, one thing seems clear is that the largest population in the world threw off the yoke of colonialism and its sister, vulture capitalism. Mao and Chou En Lai drove the socialist movement with persistence and in some cases violent resistance. But, most Chinese are in a better place now than 100 years ago. No one is perfect.

  2. Mao certainly did not end up killing millions of people in the name of revolution. That’s standard ‘demonize rival leaders’ nonsense. Truly democratic leaders like Hugo Chavez are labelled ‘dictators,’ and leaders of big countries are ‘monsters’.

    Mao did more good for more people than anyone and less harm than anyone in history–which is why 1,000,000 people visit his birthplace every month. And, btw, nobody starved to death in the ‘great famine’.