Learning curve: How authoritarian regimes adapt
5 July 2012 Last updated at 00:44 BST
Author and journalist William Dobson travelled some 93,000 miles (150,000km) over two years, researching what makes authoritarian regimes tick.
Gone are the days of Stalin-esque dictatorships where nefarious activities took place far from public view.
Today's regimes must be more nimble, clever, and willing to adapt to those who oppose them.
Mr Dobson says many such countries, from Venezuela to Russia, use the rhetoric of democracy to mask their consolidated rule - which some 20th Century dictators would not have bothered to do.
In his new book, The Dictator's Learning Curve, Mr Dobson lays out how this is done.
Produced by the BBC's David Botti
Additional photo/video: Getty Images, AFP/Getty Images, British Pathe, and ABC.