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Republic of Fear: The Politics of Modern Iraq, Updated Edition Paperback – June 15, 1998

4.2 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Originally written under the pseudonym Samir al-Khalil and published before the Gulf War, Republic of Fear describes the rise of Saddam Hussein and the Arab Ba'th Socialist party. The author, an Iraqi expatriate now living in the United States, offers this updated edition under his real name, Kanan Makiya. A new introduction discusses events following the invasion of Kuwait ("the chamber of horrors that is Saddam Hussein's Iraq has grown into something that not even the most morbid imagination could have dreamed up"). The book is not merely a chronicle of recent Iraqi politics, but a discussion of why the country has evolved into "a Kafkaesque world ... one ruled and held together by fear." Essential reading for anybody who wants to understand modern Iraq. --John J. Miller

Review

"[Makiya's] demolition of the monstrous aberration of the Ba'th is masterly. He shows the importance of the obsessive fabrication of 'enemies, ' and the tortuous logic that compels Saddam Hussein to maintain a state of perpetual alert against the enemies of Arabism both within and without."--Peter Sluglett, "Times Literary Supplement"
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 323 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press; Updated ed. edition (June 15, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0520214390
  • ISBN-13: 978-0520214392
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #570,495 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Saddam Hussein was a member of the Iraqi Baath party. In his brilliant analysis of Saddams Iraq the author Kanan Makiya illustrates how the Baathist regime managed to hold the Iraqi population in its grip for so long.

Children from 5 and up where indoctrinated with Baathist ideology in the old Iraq. The children where encouraged to spy and tell on their parents if they heard them backtalking the party. During Baath party rule the Iraqi litteracy rate was raised as the output of state propaganda soared. Women where brought into the workplace and the country was developed. Meanwhile, personal freedoms sank-all in the name of progress. Similar developments can be seen in the revolutionary governments of Cuba, China, Vietnam and Algeria. Development took the place of freedom.

Baathist Iraq built itself as a movement and in power on Stalinist norms. It contained both the crude violence and primitive isolationist outlook on one hand while at the same time pushing forward extensive mass education and a modern planned economy. Just like Stalin, the Baath party used the countries "backwardness" as an excuse to resort to extreme measures of violence. And just like Stalin, the Baath party managed to create a more powerfull nation, while at the same time unleashing a regime of terror.

It became necessary for Iraqi civilians to wear a "mask". One could never speak openly about the fear, violence and conformity in the society without risking being punished. So the Iraqi citizen would become like "a snail sealed in a shell". The personality becomes liquidated in the oppressor group and its values. Saddams image was everywhere. On a typical radio broadcast his name was mentioned thirty to fifty times an hour. Saddams images appeard on TV several hours a day.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Makiya's book is THE definitive study of Saddam's Iraq, Pre-Iraqi Freedom. His in-depth review of the linkages between Pan-Arabism and the rise of the Ba'ath party provide an excellent context for the rise of the Saddam Regime. His descriptions of the horrors of Saddam's world are gripping. The only limitation of this book is that it was written years before the fall of Baghdad-it would be fascinating to see what his view of Iraqi society in 2011 is.
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Format: Paperback
During this time of transition in Iraq where many believe that going in there was a mistake, this book will remind you as to why we did what we did. The book goes in depth about the brutality of the former Saddam hussein regeime.
It goes into such detail about the torture, genocide and other regeime atrocities that I could just about feel the bottoms of my own bare feet being caned until the soles of my feet were completely covered with lash marks and blood.
Please read this book to remind yourselves why it was important to remove Saddam Hussein.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Really for people who have a scholarly interest in the Baath Party. For readers like me who are looking for a highly readable narrative, this is not the book for you.
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Format: Paperback
Republic of Fear is written in a sensationalistic style, essentially as propaganda, but it does not detract from the reality of the unimaginable terror in the day-to-day lives of Iraqi population. Before Operation Iraqi Freedom, Iraqi exiles like Makiya, Ahmed Chalabi, and other ex-pats who made up the Iraqi National Congress had an agenda to convince foreign governments to help topple Saddam Hussein. That being said, Republic of Fear (and Cruelty and Silence as well,) provide excellent insight into the horrors and atrocities of the Baathist regime. The most valuable thing the reader comes away with is an understanding of the psyche of the Iraqi public. Had the powers-that-be read a little Makiya before the whole Abu Ghraib prison fiasco, the US would be in better standing with the Arab community.
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