BOOKS BY DANIEL KALDER
THE INFERNAL LIBRARY: March 2018 US
AKA DICTATOR LITERATURE April 2018 UK
'With a nimble style and an eye for leaden prose...Kalder's work is quite an
accomplishment, and is the one book people interesting in the terrible writing of
dictators should read.'
Publisher's Weekly (Starred Review)
A harrowing tour of “dictator literature” in the twentieth-century, featuring
the soul-killing prose and poetry of Hitler, Mao, and many more, which shows
how books have sometimes shaped the world for the worse.
Since the days of the Roman Empire dictators have written books. But in the
twentieth-century despots enjoyed unprecedented print runs to (literally)
captive audiences. The titans of the genre―Stalin, Mussolini, and Khomeini
among them―produced theoretical works, spiritual manifestos, poetry,
memoirs, and even the occasional romance novel and established a literary
tradition of boundless tedium that continues to this day.
How did the production of literature become central to the running of
regimes? What do these books reveal about the dictatorial soul? And how
can books and literacy, most often viewed as inherently positive, cause
immense and lasting harm? Putting daunting research to revelatory use,
Daniel Kalder asks and brilliantly answers these questions.
Marshalled upon the beleaguered shelves of The Infernal Library are the
books and commissioned works of the century’s most notorious figures.
Their words led to the deaths of millions. Their conviction in the significance
oftheir own thoughts brooked no argument. It is perhaps no wonder then--as
Kalder argues--that many dictators began their careers as writers.
'This about the most discomforting book I’ve read in the past year. Never
mind Trump and never mind Twitter: Daniel Kalder demonstrates that words
themselves, and the escapist spells we weave with them, are our riskiest
civic gift. Kalder’s claim – that he has read the deathless prose of tyrants so
we don’t have to – does not go nearly far enough. Dictator Literature sweeps
aside the ideas and intentions of its subjects (Mao, Hitler, Stalin, and their
imitators) and reveals what’s really been going on: an epic, word-
transforming battle between words and reality, between people as they are
and people as we would like them to be.’
Simon Ings, author of Stalin and the Scientists
‘A compelling examination of why bad minds create bad writing, and therefore
a valuable read for anyone interested in literature – or the world, in fact. Every
writer is certainly a little dictator, and every dictator, it seems, a little writer.
Kalder’s dry humour makes Dictator Literature a fun tour de force through the
mad history of the 20th century and the present.’
Norman Ohler, author of Blitzed
Selected as one of the 10 best books of 2009 by The National Post.
'Kalder is not only an excellent writer, with a vivid turn of phrase, but a sympathetic one:
his concern is to understand his subjects rather than exploit them ... his insight and
skilful writing keeps you reading.'
When Daniel Kalder, acclaimed author of one of the most unusual and feted travel
debuts of the twenty-first century, Lost Cosmonaut, descended into the sewers of
Moscow in pursuit of the mythical lost city of tramps, he didn’t realise that he was
embarking on a bizarre, year-long odyssey that would lead him thousands of miles
across Russia to the Arctic Circle via the heart of Asia. Now he has returned, mad- eyed
and bearded, to tell the tale.
After exploring the depths of Moscow’s ‘Underground Planet’, Kalder descends yet
further to a Ukrainian vision of hell, chasing down demons and exorcists in the dubious
afterglow of the Orange Revolution, before ascending to meet Vissarion Christ, one-
time traffic cop, now messiah to thousands of followers calmly awaiting the apocalypse
at the foot of his holy mountain in Siberia. Finally, in the long polar night at the edge of
the world Kalder enters the only wooden skyscraper on the planet and encounters a
man with a bizarre secret that may explain everything…
Salvation and damnation, humour and pathos collide as Daniel Kalder expertly guides
us through a fascinating collection of alternative realities, rebels and opportunists,
further expanding the possibilities of the travel memoir with this unique account of
modern day quest that reveals the astonishing lengths people will go to when they view
the world through a strange telescope.
BONUS: R.I.P. NIKOLAI SUTYAGIN'S TOWER AT THE TOP OF THE WORLD. Click
here to read a eulogy from Daniel Kalder.
'Kalder sets out to create an atypical travel book set in a series of parallel worlds. The
result, recounted in a fractured, collage-like style, is as surreal as any fiction, and
blackly comic in parts. By turns frustrating and astonishing, this outlandish and unusual
collection of absurd stories, full of experience and anecdote, veracity and invention,
nonetheless manages to capture some of Russia's perverse anarchy and extreme
'Kalder is...the Anti-Palin, scouring obscure locations for eccentrics, malcontents and
lunatics ... Thoughtful and funny.'
Times Literary Supplement
LOST COSMONAUT documents Daniel Kalder's travels in the bizarre and mysterious
worlds of Russia's ethnic republics. Obsessed with a quest he never fully understands
Kalder boldly goes where no man has gone before: in the deserts of Kalmykia he
stumbles upon a city dedicated to chess and a forgotten tribe of Mongols; in Mari El,
home to Europe's last pagan nation, he meets the Chief Druid and participates in an
ancient rite; while in the bleak industrial badlands of Udmurtia, Kalder looks for Mikhail
Kalashnikov, inventor of the AK 47 and inadvertently becomes a TV star. Profane yet
wise, utterly honest yet full of lies, LOST COSMONAUT is an eye- opening, blackly
comic tour of the most alien planet in our cosmos: Earth.
BONUS: Read The Anti-Tourist Manifesto
BBC Radio 4 Book of the Week
Selected as one of the best non-fiction books of 2006 by Amazon UK.
Travel Book of the Month
Reviewer's Choice Non- fiction Book of the Month
Book of the Month
‘Kalder has written a brilliantly funny travel book that questions the essence of
exploration and the nature of tourism in an age when there’s nowhere new to go...’
'Kalder's black humour is a new voice from the black holes of the world.'
The Times (London)
'Imagine a musical by Beckett, with lyrics by Hunter Thompson and the Sex Pistols...'
The New York Times
'A considerable achievement'
'Irreverent and laugh- out- loud hilarious... Kalder challenges us to see the beauty in
Los Angeles Times
'Lost Cosmonaut makes both an insightful travel journal and a good memoir... His
observations on his existential dread and self-consciousness are just as sharp-eyed as
those on, say, pagan ritual in Mari-El'
'...mordantly funny yet deeply affecting... the antithesis of every travel book I've ever
Scotland On Sunday
'Imagine a Bill Bryson with Tourette's, and you'll have some of the flavour of this
spasmodic, deliberately crass, strangely wonderful book'
Original UK cover