Peter Leithart Reviews Tyrants: A History of Power, Injustice and Terror

April 18, 2018

Three Forms of Tyranny 


Tyranny is a constant in human history, argues Waller Newell in his forthcoming Tyrants. But the character of tyranny is not constant. Newell analyzes three forms of tyranny. The first is the “garden-variety” tyrant, most common in the ancient world: “These are basically men who dispose of an entire country and society as if it were their personal property, exploiting it for their own pleasure and profit and to advance their own clan and cronies.” Newell acknowledges that it’s “not inconceivable that such a ruler can benefit his country – he can be a vigorous leader in war, and help expand the economy. But at the end of the day, it’s all about and his and his family’s profit and pleasure.”


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