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Man's darkest side at its zenith

By unknown | Apr 12, 2010 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

IF THE macabre does not make your stomach churn, then this is for you. All the sickos the world has known - and their blood-curdling deeds - are detailed in here.

IF THE macabre does not make your stomach churn, then this is for you. All the sickos the world has known - and their blood-curdling deeds - are detailed in here.

The sleeve of the book captures the work well: "Here are the cruel and murderous, the tyrannical and treacherous - deranged emperors, blood-soaked conquerors, depraved cannibals, pitiless temptresses, ruthless inquisitors, revolutionary zealots. Monster is a chronicle of human wickedness across the ages; the characters and crimes that everyone should know - and no one should forget."

From Nebuchadnezzar, Attila the Hun, Genghis Khan, Jack the Ripper, Adolf Hitler, Pol Pot, Idi Amin to Slobodan Milosevic - they are all here in all their gory glory.

This compilation is the sort of work that shows man's darkest side at its zenith.

Monsters, as it turns out, are not just of the male species. Women, like Empress Livia - the shrewd and aristocratic wife of Rome's first and greatest Emperor, Augustus, is counted among these too.

She's portrayed as a "murderous, vindictive and power-hungry woman who used intrigue and murder, usually by means of poison, to influence her husband, eliminate his chosen successors and place her own son, Tiberius, on the throne as Augustus' heir".

Empress Wu, the only woman in Chinese history to ever rule in her own right, was another mass-murdering megalomaniac, the writer tells us. This is what one of her many victims said of her: "Wu is a treacherous monster! May it be that I be reincarnated as a cat and she be reincarnated as a mouse, so that I can, for ever and ever, grab her throat."

There were people like Caligula (AD 12 - 41) who once walked this earth who were not just content with killing their foes but relished the act. "Make him feel like he is dying," he'd say when any of his victims was being executed.

Take Nero, for example, the emperor who fiddled while Rome burnt. The most flattering thing said about him is the following: "He showed neither discrimination nor moderation in putting to death whomsoever he pleased."

A Haiti tries to rebuild after the January earthquake, one could help but wail at the brutal excesses of Francois "Papa Doc" Duvalier who unleashed untold misery on the populace for the entire 14 years of his rule.

Duvalier wasn't the only modern-day ruler to terrorise his people. Husband and wife Nicolae and Elena Ceausescu of Romania did the same. A comment by a prosecutor at their trial is most telling: "He always claimed to act and speak on behalf of the people, to be a beloved son of the people, but he only tyrannised the people all the time."


If anything, this book will help you look yourself in the mirror and be glad to see a human face staring back.

TITLE: Monsters

AUTHOR: Simon SebagMontefiore


REVIEWER: Don Makatile


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