Series Review: How to Become a Tyrant

The new netflix series examines the tools and tactics used by authoritarian leaders to reach power and stay there
31st August 20212 min

How to Become a Tyrant 
July 2021

The new netflix series by Jonas Bell Pasht and Peter Dinklage examines the tools and tactics used by authoritarian leaders to reach power and stay there. Saddam Hussein, Adolf Hilter, Benito Mussolini, Idi Amin, Muhammer Ghaddafi, Joseph Stalin and the Kim dynasty of North Korea – each of them used an invisible step-by-step guide that the documentary series lays out over six episodes.

The documentary examines the tools and tactics used by authoritarian leaders from modern history. How to Become a Tyrant combines interviews and archival footage with animated sequences. Originally, the producers wanted to film recreations of little known events where no archival footage exists to draw from, they realized animation would better illustrate these unknown stories, and worked with the animation studio Six Point Harness to complete the series.

Interviews throughout the docuseries include experts like political commentator Andrew Sullivan and former US secretary of state Madeleine Albright, along with first hand accounts from people who lived under some of the authoritarian regimes discussed in the series.

In an interview Jonas Pasht said “People should understand history. Understanding the tactics that dictators follow, it’s really important because you get whiffs of it in all political leaders. It’s a show about dictators, but it’s also a show about power. The lust for power is a timeless phenomenon and it’s going to be with us forever.”

The docuseries using educational narrative highlight that there are those today who frequently use the same instructional manual to seize power and solidify power. The series covers the rise of the Kim dynasty and Gaddafi giving extensive details of how they emerged and solidified their positions. The insight into how Hitler and Stalin maintained their positions reveal they were not as secure as they always made out. 

The docuseries provides an interesting insight into an important political topic. The linking together of different rulers and their strategies to seize power and maintain it and the common tactics between them provide an entertaining and quick way to learn about the politics of a number of important nations. 

See series trailer here 

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