In “Dictadoras,” Montero digs deep to pile new dirt on the wives and girlfriends who warmed the beds of Stalin, Hitler, Mussolini and Franco.
If the book sounds gossip-y, it is because it is, as are most well-researched history books.
In fact, I truly think that the reason why historical fiction has become such a popular genre is that it is a veiled form of juicy gossip.
Maybe reading about Cleopatra’s lovers can teach us about strategy, perserverance, fragility, the timeless nature of tragic love. But, it also just teaches us about Cleopatra’s lovelife, which was scan-da-lous. Because Cleopatra is a historical headline, though, reading about her hot sex becomes a legitimate intellectual persuit.
And, so, legitimately, I plan on enriching my intellect with the real-life, true story of Stalin’s numerous, illegitimate early mornings.