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Saddam Hussein: A Political Biography Paperback – December 17, 2002
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From Library Journal
Iraq's invasion of Kuwait and the subsequent war in the Persian Gulf resulted in a number of quick and shallow analyses of Hussein's "mind." Karsh, an Israeli scholar at King's College in London, and Rautsi of the University of Helsinki have provided a detailed and dispassionate account of Hussein's rise to power and the political milieu in which he thrived. Relying on Western, Soviet, Arab, and Israeli sources, the authors meticulously trace the violent history of modern Iraq and the coming to power of the Ba'th Party. They also explain in depth how Hussein skillfully created "plots" that led to the physical elimination of his actual or imaginary opponents. Notwithstanding his ability to outmaneuver his domestic opponents, Hussein's ambitions to become the undisputed Arab leader led him into two catastrophic foreign ventures--the war against Iran, which ruined Iraq's economy, and his invasion of Kuwait, which resulted in the total destruction of Iraq's military and industrial capacity. This much-needed book is thorough, up-to-date, and highly readable. Recommended for scholars of the modern Middle East as well as informed laypersons. Previewed in "The Gulf War in Print," LJ 3/15/91.--Ed.
- Nader Entessar, Spring Hill Coll., Mobile, Ala.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"Karsh and Rautsi have set a standard for evidence and analytical rigor that other biographers will be hard-pressed to match. ... Not only do the full documentation and precise style reflect a long investment in research and writing, but the authors have produced a subtle interpretation of Saddam, which casts him as a man forged by his society even as he sought to reforge it."
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The subject matter is pretty straightforward. The book covers Hussein's political life up until the end of the first Gulf War in 1990. The authors do allow personal opinion to pop up from time to time, but compared to some of the other books on Iraq out there right now, I don't find it to be particularly troublesome in this instance.
If you have only a passing interest in Iraq, this book probably isn't for you. I think that people with an active interest in Iraq or the Middle East should read the book along with many others.
The intricate maze of Middle Eastern politics in the late 20th century is made understandable, even to someone without a firm grounding in the history of the region (no mean feat).
There are few major surprises in the book (unless you go into it thinking that Saddam Hussein attained and retains his position through lawful, humanitarian means...) but there is much that clarifies how the present world situation has reached the point that it has.
This book is just the same old redundant hodgepodge of 'evil Saddam' mania that has been sweeping the US since the early 1990s. While many of Saddam Hussein's acts were ruthless and he certainly did abuse his authority, he DID do some good for Iraq, as strange as it may seem. If anyone here is looking for a fair and balanced book about Saddam Hussein, I highly reccommend 'Saddam Hussein-Politics of Revenge' by Said K. Aburish. The author himself worked for Saddam's regime until he quit because of his objections to Hussein's policies. If you want to read a good book about Saddam, don't waste your time with Saddam Hussein: A Political biography.