Lessons on Leadership by Terror
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Lessons on Leadership by Terror

Finding Shaka Zulu in the Attic

Manfred F.R. Kets de Vries

Lessons on Leadership by Terror attempts to discover what happens to people when they acquire power, and whether the abuse of power is inevitable. Manfred Kets de Vries examines the life of the nineteenth-century Zulu king Shaka Zulu in order to help us understand the psychology of power and terror
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Chapter 2: The Making of a Military State: Honing the Assegai

Manfred F.R. Kets de Vries


We are not ourselves When nature, being oppress’d, commands the mind To suffer with the body. (Shakespeare, King Lear) Most of the time we think we’re sick, it’s all in the mind. (Thomas Wolfe, Look Homeward, Angel) It takes so much to be a king that he exists only as such. That extraneous glare that surrounds him hides him and conceals him from us; our sight breaks and is dissipated by it, being filled and arrested by this strong light. (Michel Eyquem de Montaigne, Essays) I am Goya of the bare field, by the enemy’s beak gouged till the craters of my eyes gape I am grief I am the tongue of war … (Andrei Andreevich Voznesenski, I Am Goya) My hoarse-sounding horn Invites thee to the chase, the sport of kings; Image of war, without its guilt … (William Somerville, The Chase) On the one hand, man is akin to many species of animals in that he fights his own species. But on the other hand, he, among the thousands of species that fight, the only one in which fighting is disruptive. … Man is the only species that is a mass murderer, the only misfit in his own society. (Nikolas Tinbergen, On War and Peace in Animals and Man) Zulu fighting and warfare before Shaka’s time resembled the combat of opposing sportsmen more than a battle zone. Disputes between individuals were often settled through a duel, and disagreements between clans (which generally centered on cattle-raiding) were tame, formalized affairs. In the...

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