Introduction: The Top Ten Dictators of All-Time

by Scott Manning on July 17, 2006

There are several “lists” out there that try to rank dictators, conquerors, and rulers. The problem I’ve found is that the lists are nothing more than sensationalism or they’re just plain inaccurate.

There are many books written with the theme of listing the most evil people. The Most Evil Dictators in History and The Evil 100 are a couple of examples. The books are all the same. You can expect them to include Hitler, Stalin, and Genghis Khan. Each evil person has a three-page bio about their evilness.

If there is a ranking, there is no measurable method to it (For example, so-and-so killed the most people, so he’s clearly the most evil). The Evil 100 includes people like Hitler and Stalin at the top of the list, yet Osama bin Laden is ranked number eight. While I’ll be the first to admit that Osama is an evil son-of-a-bitch, I wouldn’t put him in the top ten when compared to everyone else throughout history.

In terms of inaccuracy, there is a top-ten list called 10 Men Who Conquered the Most Square Miles floating around on the Internet. The source is a bathroom reader book that was originally published in the 1970’s. While the list is mostly accurate in terms of how many square miles were conquered by the ten men discussed, they are not the ten who conquered the most. The list should be called “A comparison between a bunch of guys who conquered land”.

The bigger issue with the conqueror’s list is that it has been googled to death and reposted on countless websites creating a chain of misinformation that started in the 1970’s.

A top ten list for the rest of us

What’s been missing is a top ten list that focuses on a type of person (In this case, dictators) that has some sort of realistic ranking system. Instead of trying to rank something abstract like evil, I’ve been working on a system that awards points based on tangible data that can be calculated to provide each dictator with a score.

Measurable information includes:

  • Total number of people killed
  • Total population controlled
  • Percentage of the world population controlled
  • Years in power
  • Years in power over a high population
  • Length of empire after reign
  • Total square miles controlled
  • Total square miles conquered

To spice the list up, bonus points are awarded for dictator-like acts such as:

  • taking power through force/manipulation
  • not losing power before death
  • driving a group of people to cannibalism
  • destroying books

There is also a set of qualifying criteria to weed out the wannabe dictators. To make the Top Ten Dictators of All-Time, a ruler:

  • Must have had absolute control over at least one country
  • Must have been responsible for the death of at least 500,000 people
  • Must be dead

Being dead is crucial. People like Napoleon and Vlad III Dracula have shown us that just because someone has been locked-up that they are not down for the count.

The Top Ten Dictators of All-Time

I have spent a considerable amount of time researching dictators and have come up with an official top ten. Finding estimates on some of these guys is near impossible. I believe this is the reason that no one has attempted this feat in the past.

The list is not about being evil; it’s about being a dictator. Dictators maintain absolute control over a country, and in some cases, over multiple countries. Some empires lasted years after a dictator died while others faded away almost immediately. All of this is taken into account for the final score.

The next article will cover the scoring system I’ve put together to rank the dictators. After that, each dictator in the list will be revealed one-by-one in a countdown fashion starting with number ten.

All numbers have been researched and are referenced with a reliable source. When I say “reliable source”, 9 times out of 10, this doesn’t include the Internet.

Most people seem to have a couple of names they expect to see on the list. To see who does (or doesn’t) make the list will shock some people, and the name at the top of the list will surprise even more.

Sensationalism? Not when I have the numbers to back it up.

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