Summary and book reviews of Saddam by Con Coughlin

Saddam

King of Terror

By Con Coughlin

Saddam
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  • Hardcover: Nov 2002,
    384 pages.
    Paperback: Mar 2003,
    384 pages.

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Book Summary

An unprecedented biography, drawn from the author's exclusive access to high-ranking defectors, intelligence officials, and even Saddam's own relatives -- fully illustrated with photos from his early life to the present.

Two weeks before September 11, 2001, Saddam Hussein placed his troops on their highest military alert since the Gulf War. As al-Qaeda terrorists set their attacks on America in motion, the Iraqi dictator was prepared to go to war for a second time with the United States. How did an illegitimate child from Tikrit become the West's greatest adversary, and one of the most dangerous and murderous dictators of modem times?

Saddam: King of Terror is the most insightful and illuminating portrait of the Iraqi president to date-and a fascinating study of the making of a tyrant. Con Coughlin, executive editor of London's award-winning Sunday Telegraph, has covered the Middle East for decades -- on the front lines, narrowly escaping kidnapping and violence. He has cultivated exclusive contacts among the Western intelligence community and numerous defectors from Saddam's inner circles -- including former generals, political associates, and bodyguards as well as childhood friends. Coughlin knew immediately that American and British declarations of war against terrorism after the September 11th attacks would sooner rather than later encompass Saddam Hussein as well as Osama bin Laden. Coughlin shows that any operation against terrorism will be incomplete as long as Saddam remains in power -- that international policies will have to change from cautious tolerance to active intervention, a change that is already becoming a reality.

Coughlin also provides the first complete portrait of Saddam's childhood ever published, compiled from the author's interviews with Saddam's contemporaries and relatives who have never before spoken publicly about him According to Coughlin, Saddam has a younger sister no one knew about, and he idolizes his mother, although his childhood was deeply marred by his shame about being fatherless. From his earliest years, he looked to his mother's brother as a father figure, and Coughlin tells how it was this uncle who first introduced Saddam to a life of crime and political rebellion. Saddam: King of Terror meticulously traces Saddam's bloody rise to power, from Saddam's first murder and his time in prison, to an eyewitness account of Saddam storming Iraq's presidential palace in a tank, to his almost feral ruthlessness in disposing of his opponents, even close friends and relatives, to create his regime -- a complex mechanism in which family and tribe are central, held together by Saddam's carefully orchestrated reign of fear.

In Saddam: King of Terror, we see both the bizarre, almost pathological behavior of an international pariah and the unshakable power of a tyrant who has defied the world's censure and holds a nation in his grasp.

Chapter One
The Orphan

The young Saddam Hussein had a harsh and deprived childhood. The man who was to become one of the most powerful Arab leaders of modern times came from an impoverished village situated on the banks of the Tigris River on the outskirts of the provincial town of Tikrit. He was born into a poor family in one of the country's most inhospitable regions. At an early age Saddam was orphaned and sent to live with relatives, who oversaw his upbringing and education. No profound knowledge of psychology is required to estimate the effect these circumstances had upon the child's development. As with Hitler and Stalin, those two great tyrants of the twentieth century, both of whom overcame their less than auspicious starts in life to take absolute control of their respective nations, Saddam was to rise above the disadvantages of his childhood to become the undisputed master of Iraq. The shame of his humble origins was to become the driving force of his ambition, while the ...

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Reviews

Media Reviews
Publishers Weekly

Writing a biography of Saddam Hussein is like trying to assemble the prosecution case against a notorious criminal gangster. Most of the key witnesses have either been murdered, or are too afraid to talk, notes Coughlin. Despite these formidable obstacles, the London Daily Telegraph correspondent has assembled a timely, detailed portrait of the Iraqi dictator-though not one that fully supports the subtitle's implied link to al-Qaeda....as a new military action looms, readers looking for a biography of Iraq's strongman will need to look no further.

Reader Reviews
Joshua Lim

Saddam: King of Terror
A great book to know more about Saddam lifestory. It provides interesting details on his life from a small boy to a tyrant. However, this books show traces of 'biasness' on the part of the author in depeciting negative aspects of his life.

Brian Murphy

If your looking for a highly critical book on Sadaam, this is not the book for you. This book would be given a rating of 5, however it is packed full of evidence that cannot be backed up. This book is nothing more than a conspiracy theory. It is...   Read More

Anonymous

I think, that Mr. Coughlin makes his research back to front, collecting things, that would support the end which he wants to reach.

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