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Real Dictators

Real Dictators is the new podcast series hosted by Paul McGann (Dr Who, Luther, Withnail and I) that explores the hidden lives of history’s tyrants.
Also, check out our other podcast, Real Narcos. Out Now!

Adolf Hitler Part 3: From Soldier to Propaganda Agent

Real Dictators

  • 1.3K views
  • almost 3 years ago
  • 43:45

Hitler gets the news he’s been dreading, as he learns that World War One has ended. The German people wrestle with the reality of defeat. Revolutions break out across the land, as the Kaiser’s regime is swept away. Discharged from hospital, Hitler returns home to Munich. While most troops are demobilised, Hitler is desperate to remain a soldier. He will do whatever it takes to keep his army job. The Allies gather in Paris to settle the tab for the Great War. Disenchanted and disillusioned, Hitler drinks in far-right conspiracy theories. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

Adolf Hitler Part 2: Hitler in the First World War

Real Dictators

  • 970 views
  • almost 3 years ago
  • 40:03

In June 1914, an assassination on the streets of Sarajevo disrupts the delicate balance of power in Europe. With Archduke Franz Ferdinand dead, the First World War explodes into action. Adolf Hitler, meanwhile, relocates to Munich. After dodging the Austrian draft, he soon embraces life as a German soldier. But then, while serving in Flanders in 1918, a traumatic injury threatens to end his rise to power before it has even begun. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

Adolf Hitler Part 1: Birth of a Führer

Real Dictators

  • 1.5K views
  • almost 3 years ago
  • 39:02

You may know something of the Hitler story. But there’s a decent chance you don’t know the half of it. We begin a deep dive into the early years of a man who became the very embodiment of evil. Peeling away Hitler’s own myths about his childhood, we explore how he emerged from obscurity to begin his political journey. The future German Führer isn’t born in Germany. He’s born next door, in Austria. Growing up in the borderlands, he clashes with his austere father but idolises his doting mother. The young Hitler abandons schoolwork and dedicates himself to the artistic life. He sets his sights on Vienna, where he hopes to make it as a painter. But then tragedy strikes. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

Introducing: Real Narcos Season 2 - Félix Gallardo

Real Dictators

  • 1.1K views
  • about 3 years ago
  • 36:24

From the creators of Real Dictators comes Real Narcos, the show that takes you to the front line of the war on drugs. For Season 2, we're in Mexico. In 1985, Kiki Camarena is a US DEA agent on the trail of Félix Gallardo - the man known as the Mexican Godfather. But Camarena's kidnapping at the hands of the cartel will send shockwaves around the world. Search 'Real Narcos' in your podcast app and hit subscribe for weekly episodes. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

General Tojo Part 4: The End of World War II

Real Dictators

  • 920 views
  • about 3 years ago
  • 38:55

In the final part of this story, the walls are beginning to close in on Japan’s wartime Prime Minister, General Hideki Tojo. He opts to take hands-on control of the remaining armed forces, despite minimal battlefield experience, and hatches a rogue scheme to knock the British out of the War. Staring down the barrel of defeat, Emperor Hirohito weighs up finally pulling the plug on his lead General. With Tojo forced out of office and on the run from the Allies in Tokyo, the end of World War II arrives. But its final chapter will change the world forever more. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

General Tojo Part 4: The End of World War II

Real Dictators

  • 820 views
  • about 3 years ago
  • 38:37

In the final part of this story, the walls are beginning to close in on Japan’s wartime Prime Minister, General Hideki Tojo. He opts to take hands-on control of the remaining armed forces, despite minimal battlefield experience, and hatches a rogue scheme to knock the British out of the War. Staring down the barrel of defeat, Emperor Hirohito weighs up finally pulling the plug on his lead General. With Tojo forced out of office and on the run from the Allies in Tokyo, the end of World War II arrives. But its final chapter will change the world forever more. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

General Tojo Part 3: Attack on Pearl Harbor

Real Dictators

  • 930 views
  • about 3 years ago
  • 35:08

Japan attacks the US naval base at Pearl Harbor in the opening salvo of the Pacific War. Caught unawares, President Franklin D. Roosevelt responds by ratcheting up America’s military capabilities at an astonishing rate. Already Prime Minister of Japan, Hideki Tojo now moves to take every significant government post for himself. As Japanese troops sweep through the Malay Peninsula, a military hospital in Singapore comes into their crosshairs. As thousands of Allied soldiers are interned in prisoner of war camps, they face conditions that beggar belief. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

General Tojo Part 2: Kill All, Burn All, Loot All

Real Dictators

  • 1K views
  • over 3 years ago
  • 39:04

We return to Japan and the story of the workaholic army officer who rose through the ranks to lead his nation into total war. Hideki Tojo restores discipline to the military following the Aizawa Incident. He is promoted to Major General and rewarded with command of the secret police - the Kempeitai. The Imperial Japanese Army invades China and embarks on a campaign to terrorise the civilian population. Kempeitai operatives set up a research lab where they carry out horrific medical and weapons experiments, seeking a decisive edge over Japan’s enemies. This is only the beginning. Before long, spurred on by Prime Minister Tojo, the nation readies itself for war with the United States. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

General Tojo Part 1: The Young Samurai

Real Dictators

  • 1.2K views
  • over 3 years ago
  • 33:31

General Hideki Tojo was the man who led Japan into World War 2 and oversaw some of the most horrific war crimes in recorded history. Tojo did not hold absolute power - his means of imposing his will were more nuanced than that. But he more than earns his place at this table. Ruling under a compliant Emperor, Tojo gathered power to himself. This is the story of the minister who outgrew his master, the bureaucrat whose relentless work ethic took him to the apex of Japan’s totalitarian military state. Hideki Tojo is born in 1884. Japan is an emerging power on the world stage, a nation growing in confidence and ambition. We chart Tojo’s upbringing through the 1880s and ‘90s, before the man they call “The Razor” begins his journey up the greasy pole of Japanese politics. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

Papa Doc Part 3: Vampire of the Caribbean

Real Dictators

  • 1.2K views
  • over 3 years ago
  • 28:36

François Duvalier has created a terrifying cult of personality around himself. Not only is he President for Life; he claims to be an immaterial being - a spirit that will hover over Haiti even after his body dies. With near-godlike status achieved, his thoughts turn to his legacy. The groundwork is laid for the President’s son, Jean-Claude, to inherit power. This young man they call “Baby Doc” sits waiting in the wings. Meanwhile, regime loyalists devise increasingly sinister and corrupt methods to line their own pockets. Our contributors reflect on the legacy of Papa Doc - a name that will forever haunt the nightmares of Haitians. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

Papa Doc Part 2: Haiti’s Dictator vs JFK

Real Dictators

  • 1K views
  • over 3 years ago
  • 37:15

Ensconced in the Presidential Palace, Haitian dictator “Papa Doc” Duvalier crushes an attempted coup without mercy. Spooked by this near miss, Duvalier forms his own private militia called the Tonton Macoute. They take their name from a terrifying bogeyman of Haitian mythology and will go on to kill as many as 60,000 Haitians. Desperate to prevent communism taking hold in the Caribbean, the United States initially helps to prop up Papa Doc’s administration. Better the devil you know… But as the horrors of the regime become unavoidably clear, President Kennedy decides the time has come to lay down a marker. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

Papa Doc Part 1: The Voodoo Tyrant

Real Dictators

  • 1.7K views
  • over 3 years ago
  • 46:22

Just a few hundred miles south of Florida, across the Caribbean Sea, lies Haiti. From 1957 to 1971, this tropical island nation was ruled by a would-be demigod. For 14 years, François Duvalier - better known as “Papa Doc” - wielded the twin powers of state violence and voodoo. His embezzlement of foreign aid turned an economy rich with potential into the poorest country in the West. Real Dictators takes you behind the scenes of Papa Doc’s maniacal regime. His victims and adversaries tell the story of the medical doctor who became the butcher of his people. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

Mao Zedong Part 3: The Cultural Revolution

Real Dictators

  • 1.1K views
  • over 3 years ago
  • 44:27

Mao’s ‘Cultural Revolution’ sets out to purge the minds of an entire population. At the same time, the Supreme Leader continues to live a life of debauchery and excess - as the man who used to be his personal physician remembers. Mao’s propaganda machine seems invincible. But as the Chairman ages and his health deteriorates, the security of his legacy is anything but ensured. Eyewitnesses to his brutality reflect on what Mao means to China today, more than 40 years after his death. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

Mao Zedong Part 3: The Cultural Revolution

Real Dictators

  • 1.2K views
  • over 3 years ago
  • 44:56

Mao’s ‘Cultural Revolution’ sets out to purge the minds of an entire population. At the same time, the Supreme Leader continues to live a life of debauchery and excess - as the man who used to be his personal physician remembers. Mao’s propaganda machine seems invincible. But as the Chairman ages and his health deteriorates, the security of his legacy is anything but ensured. Eyewitnesses to his brutality reflect on what Mao means to China today, more than 40 years after his death. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

Mao Zedong Part 2: The ‘Great Leap Forward’

Real Dictators

  • 1.2K views
  • over 3 years ago
  • 48:06

With an army of devoted followers, Mao Zedong comes down from his hilltop headquarters and engages his Nationalist enemies in battles across China. Finally, victory belongs to the Communists. Crowds flock to Beijing’s Tiananmen Square, as Mao walks on stage to rapturous applause. With China in a mess after years of Nationalist rule, Mao is greeted by many as a hero. But life under the new Chairman is about to get a whole lot worse. Installed as Supreme Leader, Mao sets about revolutionising the way his people live, work and think. His ‘Great Leap Forward’ is intended to be an economic masterplan. Instead, it incurs an inconceivable death toll - driving people across the land to the wildest extremes of human behaviour. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

Mao Zedong Part 1: The Peasant’s Son Who Craved Power

Real Dictators

  • 980 views
  • over 3 years ago
  • 39:01

In the centre of China’s capital city, Beijing, lies a corpse that no one dares remove. It’s been 44 years since Mao Zedong’s body was laid to rest in the grandiose Chairman Mao Memorial Hall. He may be gone but he is not forgotten. To some, he’s the father of modern China. To many others, he’s a sadistic thug - a man willing, even happy, to sacrifice millions of lives in pursuit of power and economic dominance. Mao Zedong is born in Hunan Province in 1893. Growing up on his father’s farm, he consumes books and ideas. He becomes a devoted left-wing activist. Mao’s rise to the top of the Communist Party is littered with violent outbursts, setting the tone for the decades to come. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

Mao Zedong Part 1: The Peasant’s Son Who Craved Power

Real Dictators

  • 1.1K views
  • over 3 years ago
  • 39

In the centre of China’s capital city, Beijing, lies a corpse that no one dares remove. It’s been 44 years since Mao Zedong’s body was laid to rest in the grandiose Chairman Mao Memorial Hall. He may be gone but he is not forgotten. To some, he’s the father of modern China. To many others, he’s a sadistic thug - a man willing, even happy, to sacrifice millions of lives in pursuit of power and economic dominance. Mao Zedong is born in Hunan Province in 1893. Growing up on his father’s farm, he consumes books and ideas. He becomes a devoted left-wing activist. Mao’s rise to the top of the Communist Party is littered with violent outbursts, setting the tone for the decades to come. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

Joseph Stalin Part 3: Hitler Attacks

Real Dictators

  • 1K views
  • over 3 years ago
  • 45:56

Stalin’s regime hits the rocks when Adolf Hitler launches Operation Barbarossa and invades Russia. Nazi tanks plough towards Moscow in a devastating advance. Stalin’s legacy is forged in this fight to the death. In his final years, the strongman succumbs to cardiac problems. His tools for progress have been famine, slavery and execution. Yet to this day, some of his countrymen and women lionise him as the man who turned Russia into a superpower. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

Joseph Stalin Part 2: The Secretary Becomes Dictator

Real Dictators

  • 1.4K views
  • over 3 years ago
  • 50:09

With the First World War underway, Stalin’s journey to becoming a brutal dictator grinds into gear. After the War, Russia is turned upside down. Stalin thrives in the chaos, masterminding a string of elaborate takedowns of his rivals. Rising to party leader, Stalin visits a ruthless purge on his enemies. The dreaded secret police cleanse the country of so-called traitors. Rural society collapses under this onslaught. But Stalin’s brutality does not go unchallenged. The peasants revolt, while a showdown with his own wife at a dinner party has tragic consequences. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices