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The Dictator's Playbook

Learn how six dictators, from Mussolini to Saddam Hussein, shaped the 20th century. How did they seize and lose power? What forces were against them?

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The Dictator's Playbook

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THE DICTATOR’S PLAYBOOK examines the historical, sociological and psychological foundations of 20th century dictatorships, and provides fresh insight into six brutal men who impacted world history: Kim Il Sung, Saddam Hussein, Benito Mussolini, Manuel Noriega Francisco Franco, and Idi Amin.




Episode 1: Kim Il Sung | Wednesday, January 9 at 10:00pm

Witness Kim Il Sung’s transformation from guerilla fighter to brutal dictator of North Korea. How did he build the most controlled society on earth and launch a dictatorship that has lasted for three generations?


Episode 2: Saddam Hussein | Wednesday, January 16 at 10pm

Learn how Saddam Hussein ruled Iraq with an iron fist for almost 30 years. To maintain power, he used fear, intimidation and violence like few other dictators in history, but he made the fatal mistake of believing his regime could take on the world.


Episode 3: Benito Mussolini | Wednesday, January 23 at 10pm

See why Benito Mussolini was considered a pioneer among 20th century dictators. From undermining judges to indoctrinating children, he forged key tactics for seizing power. He also created fascism, an ideology that would plunge Europe into darkness.


Episode 4: Manuel Noriega | Wednesday, January 30 at 10pm

Watch Manuel Noriega rise through the Panamanian military to become chief of intelligence – and then, military dictator. He spied for the United States, but in the end, money laundering, drug trafficking and political crimes led to his downfall.


Episode 5: Francisco Franco | Wednesday, February 6 10pm

Learn how Francisco Franco used the tactics of colonial war to win control of Spain. Driven by a deeply conservative vision, he used torture, murder and incarceration to transform Spanish society.


Episode 6: Idi Amin | Wednesday, February 13 at 10pm

See how Idi Amin used lessons learned in the colonial British Army to build a powerful dictatorship in Uganda. Through a combination of populist charm and brutal violence, he ruled for eight years – until his strategic blunders brought him down.