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The Weight of a Mustard Seed

The Intimate Story of an Iraqi General and His Family During Thirty Years of Tyranny

by Wendell Steavenson

The Weight of a Mustard Seed by Wendell Steavenson X
The Weight of a Mustard Seed by Wendell Steavenson
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  • Published Mar 2009
    304 pages
    Genre: Biography/Memoir

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There are currently 13 member reviews
for The Weight of a Mustard Seed
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  • Anne (Austin TX)
    The Weight of a Mustard Seed
    This is a difficult book to read because it tells of those who were close to Saddam Hussein during the Iran-Iraq war. Specifically it relates stories of one general, Kamel Sachet, and his family. The book is written almost as a series of essays or feature reports based on interviews gathered over time. In fact the author is/has been a reporter.

    I think the book is as truthful as the author could make it but during the telling of the story she has speculated on certain happenings. My favorite parts of the book were when the members of General Sachet's family were featured. There may be book clubs that would enjoy discussing this book but I can only think of it in terms of the bookclub in which I participate and I don't think it would be a book they would choose based upon the subject matter.
  • Barbara (Brooklyn NY)
    I Expected More
    Wendell Steavenson, through interviews, paints a picture, although often disjointedly, of Iraq before, during and after the reign of Saddam Hussein. The book was supposed to highlight the life of General Kamel Sachet but I learned much more. Iraq's people, customs, politics, religion and attitudes towards America are presented through the voices of many people.

    It was quite distressing to read how young Muslim men are indoctrinated in their religious schools to be prepared for jihad. The ruthless torture of Iraqi prisoners by Iraqi guards was horrifying to read about.

    Steavenson makes a feeble attempt to understand the 'whys' of certain behaviors that were reminiscent of WWII Nazi Germany and questions how ordinary people become "an instrument of the regime" and begin to do "monstrous things". How does a society spin so out of control?

    Although the language is clearly written, this book is so disorganized that it was often difficult to follow. However, I found that I learned a great deal and for this reason I recommend it.
  • Laura (Los Angeles CA)
    Looking for Answers
    Wendell Steavenson explores an age old question - why do people follow bad leaders even against their better judgment?

    She follows the career of one of Saddam's Generals interviewing his family and colleagues, using their stories to illuminate Iraq's descent into years of warfare and dictatorship.

    I was disappointed at the lack of any real analysis of how Iraq came to accept brutality as a method of governance. Her writing style seemed very unfocused and meandering at times, getting the General's story across but not really allowing us to learn much in the process.

    That being said, I would still recommend this book for anyone looking for an easy to read history of Iraq leading up to the invasion. There are plenty of other books on the subject if you're looking for a deeper social and political analysis.
  • Karen (Dedham MA)
    Mustard Seed
    I have tried several times to get "into" the book. I keep saying I want to read this book, but I find myself procrastinating. It's not a bad book, but I just didn't like the style. A lot of information about the wars between Iran and Iraq and the Americans. I guess you could call it Historical Truth. I did not finish the book.
  • Beverly, Palm Harbor, FL. (Palm Harbor FL)
    This book could have been so much more, if only to put a human face on our "enemies". It does give the reader a sense of how Saddam was able to make Iraq into his personal fiefdom; it did not convey to me how Gen. Sachet's turnaround "moral journey " evolved. The chronological sequence of events, told through different interviews (family, military peers) becomes very confusing. Ms Steavenson's subject remains an enigma. I would not recommend this book.
  • Heather (Orlando FL)
    Disorganized and Poorly Written
    Though this book was ostensibly about General Kamal Sachet and his experiences as a favorite commander of Saddam Hussein, it would be more accurately described as the broader story of those men who collaborated with the dangerous whims and policies of Saddam. I thought that the book was written very sloppily and disjointedly. The story arrangement was also choppy and disorganized.
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