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Selected Prose

53 EpisodesProduced by Selected ProseWebsite

Story readings and interviews with writers.


33. Brandon Gauthier

Our next guest is professor Brandon Gauthier. Brandon completed his doctorate in Modern History at Fordham University in 2016. He is the Director of Global Education at The Derryfield School and an Adjunct Professor of History for Fordham University. His first book, BEFORE EVIL: Young Lenin, Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini, Mao, and Kim came out in April of 2022, from Tortoise Books. Here is a brief summary of this compelling examination of the lives of the 20th century's worst dictators:

"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."

*Content Warning* - We discuss online radicalism, mass murder, and specifically the horrendous and evil mass shooting carried out by a fanatical white supremacist that occurred in Buffalo, New York, on May 14, 2022. 

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