We gave it a B+
Combining the bottomless compassion of Stalin with the gentlemanly restraint of Herod, His Excellency Rafael Trujillo — a.k.a. The Chief, a.k.a. The Goat, a.k.a. Generalissimo of the Dominican Republic (1930-61) — was a despot par excellence. Moving vividly from the satisfactions of the monster’s morning bath through the graft and murder of his workday and onto the seignorial depravities of the tropical night, Vargas Llosa conveys the full humanity of a Shakespeare-worthy villain and conjures, not without comedy, the terrors of his reign. The book is a thriller, gaining speed and depth as it follows the plans of anti-Trujillista assassins; a slightly hazy historical exploration; and a gross-out comedy, lavishly describing a scared old man who can control a country but not his bladder.