Tombs of the Great Leaders traces the development of the political tomb since the Bronze Age tumuli, and looks in depth at those built in the twentieth and twenty-first century. Each presentation of a site clearly explains the history and context of the leader, their death, the creation of the mausoleum and an eyewitness account from the author of the tomb as it is today. Gwendolyn Leick investigates the memorial sites housing Communist leaders from Lenin in Moscow to Mao Zedong in Beijing, to Ho Chi Minh in Hanoi, and Kim Il-Sung in North Korea. It also looks at the attempts by Fascist rulers Franco and Mussolini to immortalize their memories. It explores the grand national monuments for Founding Fathers in new nation states, from Ataturk in Turkey, to Ziaur Rahman in Dhaka, Mohammed Ali Jinnah in Karach, to Sun Yat-sen in Purple Mountain, Nanjing, and many others across Africa, in the Middle East and elsewhere. Leick shows how these mausoleums and tombs have become sites of pilgrimage, and describes the actual experience of visiting the sites, the responses they elicit and the context in which they are viewed today.
Combining history, architecture and travel writing this global perspective is a fascinating and revealing study of the self-perpetuation of politicians and leaders, despots and dictators alike throughout history.