History's Most Insane Rulers: Lunatics, Eccentrics, and Megalomaniacs From Emperor Caligula to Kim Jong Il by Michael Rank

A biographical account of history's 10 most insane rulers

History's most insane rulers: lunatics, eccentrics, and megalomaniacs from emperor caligula to kim jong il

Few mixtures are as toxic as absolute power and insanity. When nothing stands between a leader's delusion whims and seeing them carried them out, all sorts of bizarre outcomes are possible. 

Whether it is Ottoman Sultan Ibrahim I practicing archery on palace servants and sending out his advisers to find the fattest woman in the empire for his wife or Turkmenistan President Turkmenbashi renaming the days of the week after himself and constructing an 80-foot golden statue that revolves to face the sun, crazed leaders have plagued society for millenia. 

This book will look at the lives of the ten most mentally unbalanced figures in history. Some suffered from genetic disorders that led to schizophrenia, such as French King Charles VI, who thought he was made of glass. Others believed themselves to be God’s representatives on earth and wrote religious writings that they guaranteed to the reader would get them into heaven, even if they were barely literate. 

Whatever their background, these rulers show that dynastic politics made sure that a rightful heir always got on the throne – despite that heir's mental condition – and that power can destroy a mind worse than any mental illness.

Genre: HISTORY / General

Secondary Genre: BIOGRAPHY & AUTOBIOGRAPHY / General

Language: English


Word Count: 15,500

Sales info:

This book has sold nearly 10,000 copies in English over the last year, and several thousand copies in Spanish and German. It is by far my best-selling book among the 10 I have written. It has sold very well in foreign markets.

Sample text:


Does it pay to be crazy?

In terms of the ability to acquire significant amounts of capital by proving oneself to be mentally unstable, the answer is 'no.' No such profession currently exists, unless we include used car salesmen who appear on late-night commercials and flaunt their lunacy as the only coherent explanation for such exceptional discounts on a Toyota Tercel. However, in terms of working as a dictator and controlling a nation, it counter-intuitively appears that being unhinged can secure the rule of an autocrat far better than being level-headed. An eccentric autocrat can stay in power for decades in spite of – nay, because of – his ostensibly insane practices.

Such questions about the longevity of dictators were asked in 2011 following the death of Libyan Dictator Col. Muammer el-Qaddafi, who managed to hold on to power in the North African nation for 42 years despite his highly eccentric behavior. Before his death he became infamous for an incoherent speech at the United Nations in which he asked whether swine flu was man-made, offered to move the United Nations’ headquarters to Libya to prevent jet lag among other world leaders, and suggested that Israel and Palestine be combined into one state called Isratine.

As the leader of his country he used his position to call for the end of Switzerland and contemplate conspiracy theories such as Israeli intelligence assassinating JFK. He was escorted by an all-female contingent of bodyguards. He wrote a book of teachings called “The Green Book” that claims to offer the answers to all human problems in three parts: The Solution to Democratic Problems, The Solution to Economic Problems, and The Solution to Social Problems.


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