Talk of the Devil
Parola del diavolo.

May 2003
Interviews with Hideous Men
Italian journalist Riccardo Orizio has spent several years chatting with some of the world’s most infamous tyrants, deposed and living in ignominious exile.
The handwritten missive begins with a Quranic verse, reminding all who read it that “they had made a covenant with God that they would not turn back in flight.” The man who supposedly wrote the letter wants nothing more than for his people to uphold that covenant, even though he himself has not.


April 24, 2003
Are dictators mad geniuses?
Two new books suggest that demented world leaders like Saddam, Idi Amin and Baby Doc Duvalier might be more like that cranky guy in the next cubicle than Hannibal Lecter.
By Laura Miller
When it comes to villains, who doesn't prefer a shameless fiend to a whining shirker? Milton's Satan, proclaiming that it is "better to reign in hell than serve in heav'n," or Iago, crowing over an opportunity for "double knavery," may be damnable, but their nihilistic bravado thrills us in a way that the plodding of an Adolf Eichmann cannot. Conscious, gleeful, unrepentant wickedness seems to crop up more often in fiction than in reality, though.


May 4, 2003
The sad, strange world of disgraced dictators
By Andrea Behr
Imagine if Saddam Hussein has survived this war. Imagine him 10 or 20 years from now, forgotten and powerless, living in some seedy hotel in Syria, mustache intact but white now, black beret and olive drab uniform faded and frayed, buttons straining at his belly. He'd probably see nothing to apologize for, don't you think? He'd probably be ready to defend his rule over Iraq to any listeners, with arguments, documents, lawsuits, petitions.


May 4, 2003
After the Fall
'Talk of the Devil: Encounters with Seven Dictators' by Riccardo Orizio
By Chandrahas Choudhury
For many years, explains the Italian journalist Riccardo Orizio in the preface to Talk of the Devil, he carried in his wallet two newspaper clippings about the deposed African dictators Idi Amin and Jean-Bedel Bokassa as he traveled around the world. Eventually they germinated into a full-scale project in pursuit of "fallen tyrants" and their reflections on the arc common to all their lives -- extraordinary lives in which they had had everything and lost everything, with "no time to start again."


Reviews in short
Read these short editorial reviews

"Perhaps Orizio discovered that these demons are beyond de-demonising, for rarely does he successfully narrow the gap between "us" and "them. Instead -- from the title onwards -- this is a book of horrified gawping, albeit elegantly written horrified gawping. (...) When I picked this book up to re-read it, I found that I didn't want to. All that monstrousness was just wearying."
Jon Ronson, Daily Telegraph