The Dictator Who Refused to Die
A nuanced and thoughtful biography of the elusive, much debated Portuguese dictator.
Fifty years after his death, Portugal’s Salazar remains a controversial and enigmatic figure, whose conservative and authoritarian legacy still divides opinion. Some see him as a reactionary and oppressive figure who kept Portugal backward, while others praise his honesty, patriotism and dedication to duty. Contemporary radicals are wary of his unabashed elitism and scepticism about social progress, but many conservatives give credit to his persistent warnings about the threats to Western civilisation from runaway materialism and endless experimentation.
For a dictator, Salazar’s end was anti-climactic—a domestic accident. But during his nearly four decades in power, he survived less through reliance on force and more through guile and charm. This probing biography charts the highs and lows of Salazar’s rule, from rescuing Portugal’s finances and keeping his strategically-placed nation out of World War II to maintaining a police state while resisting the winds of change in Africa. It explores Salazar’s long-running suspicion of and conflict with the United States, and how he kept Hitler and Mussolini at arm’s length while persuading his fellow dictator Franco not to enter the war on their side.
Iberia expert Tom Gallagher brings to life a complex leader who deserves to be far better known.
Tom Gallagher is Emeritus Professor of Politics at the University of Bradford. He has published one novel, Flight of Evil, and fifteen single-authored books on democracy and authoritarianism in post-1870 Europe, ranging from Britain and Iberia to the Balkans. He is currently researching the role of universities in British politics.
‘Tom Gallagher’s immensely detailed portrait of a fascinating man is itself fascinating. The author is a distant presence, coolly objective and disinclined to judge his huge cast of politicians, soldiers, diplomats and bishops. He allows readers space to come to their own conclusions.’ — The Telegraph
‘The humane and open-minded story of a man whose legacy has been erased but who could well be regarded as the most consequential minor statesman of the 20th century.’ — Wall Street Journal
‘A vivid, balanced and enormously enjoyable biography of António Salazar, head of Europe’s longest-lived right-authoritarian regime. The best introduction to Portuguese affairs in the middle decades of the twentieth century.’ — Stanley Payne, Emeritus Professor of History, University of Wisconsin-Madison, and author of A History of Spain and Portugal
‘Salazar remains a mystery, even to the Portuguese, but this book goes a long way towards deciphering him. Beautifully written and meticulously researched, this is both a biography and an intellectual portrait. Salazar was a normal man, but a very unusual dictator, whose thought and action continue to pose a challenge to democratic politics in Europe and elsewhere. A much-needed and long-awaited book.’ — Bruno Maçães, former Europe Minister of Portugal and author of The Dawn of Eurasia
‘A long-overdue outsider’s approach to the controversial Salazar and his regime. Building on a wide array of sources and interpretations, this insightful portrait of Salazar’s political persona offers a remarkable analysis of his foreign policy and geopolitical views. A great read!’ — Lívia Franco, Professor of Political Studies, Catholic University of Portugal, and Associate Researcher, European Council on Foreign Relations
‘An insightful account of one of Europe’s lesser-known but truly intriguing twentieth-century statesmen. Gallagher’s comprehensive biography helps explain how, over four decades, Salazar kept an iron grip on an unruly country, and outfoxed bigger international powers arrayed against him.’ — Barry Hatton, author of Queen of the Sea: A History of Lisbon and The Portuguese: A Modern History