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Foreword


For God’s sake, let us sit upon the ground,

And tell sad stories of the death of kings:--

How some have been despos’d; some slain in war;

Some haunted by the ghosts they have despos’d;

Some poison’d by their wives; some sleeping kill’d;

All murder’d;


Thus Shakespeare described the ways in which kings ceased to reign in his play, Richard II. So it was in Shakespeare’s time and for most of human history. Rulers of nations do not usually go of their own volition. If they are not torn from their thrones by some ambitious subordinate, then the people have to suffer from their evils until death relieves them of the tyrant. It really does not matter whether we call the ruler President, or King, or Chairman, or Big Brother. “Power corrupts,” said Lord Acton (in his case referring to Popes), and the grasp on power is hard to pry loose.

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