Book Review on “The Butterfly of the Stars” by French author Bernard Werber

You can’t explain the salty taste to someone who only knows the sweet.”
– Bernard Werber

What is it like to be a dictator’s chief? Understand that if you are suspected of trying to poison for a moment, you will be exterminated instantly? Each of your dishes will be carefully examined, and sometimes it will depend on whether you prepare a delicious dinner, or there will be bloody executions in the afternoon…After all, a satisfied dictator can still pardon someone and an eager and angry one – definitely not…

Witold Shablowski cautiously approached the historical study of this issue. He literally broke down and explored five countries: Iraq, Uganda, Albania, Cuba and Cambodia. In each of them, he (often with the help of local translators or journalists) looked for those who were the head chiefs of the country’s former dictators. He arranged personal meetings to see how they lived presently: one could scarcely live to old age in desperate poverty, and the other could launch his own fashionable restaurant. Someone had a family. Someone did not. When you work in such a prestigious position, you may enjoy a corresponding salary and buns – like a modern car every year. But also the terrible responsibility and understanding that at any moment you and your children can be shot down or have such a gloomy and heavy press on their shoulders.

Interestingly, all these people knew what their leader was doing. They prepared gourmet meals for him, while the country’s population was dying of hunger (In Cuba, for example, they drank water with sugar to have lunch.) They have seen their friends or acquaintances go missing, palaces build at the expense of citizens and more security and prisons be created. But most of them still do not recognize that their regimes were bloody and bad. The same is with their bosses. Why? No one will tell you better than they and their deeply hidden souls.

And in this book, there are many riveting recipes written first hand. Not all ingredients grow in Ukraine, but you can still try combining something. If you still have an appetite after reading, of course…My rating is 9/10.

March 3, 2020

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