Synopses & Reviews
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 inter-views 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 Iraqs presidential palace in a tank, to his almost feral ruthlessness in disposing of his opponents, even dose 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.
"[A] timely, detailed portrait of the Iraqi dictator though not one that fully supports the subtitle's implied link to al-Qaeda....[A]s a new military action looms, readers looking for a biography of Iraq's strongman will need to look no further." Publishers Weekly
"If it's important to know your enemy, Saddam: King of Terror is the book to read....This solid, albeit scary, biography omits the growing opposition in the U.S., Europe and the United Nations to a military rather than a diplomatic solution to the problems posed by the Iraqi dictator and his weapons of mass destruction. But little doubt is left that Hussein would use any weapon at his disposal to save his neck." Herbert Mitgang, The New York Daily News
"[A]n engrossing account of how this semi-educated peasant boy advanced to power through the bloodstained shoals of Iraqi revolutionary politics....While accounts of his subject's brutality and ruthlessness are familiar, though no less chilling for that, Coughlin reminds us that Hussein did not achieve his eminence through terror alone." Andrew Cockburn, The Los Angeles Times
Drawing on intelligence gathered by Western governments as well as interviews with numerous defectors -- including former generals, political associates, and bodyguards, as well as childhood friends -- "Saddam Hussein: King of Terror is the most insightful and illuminating portrait of Hussein ever published. It proves that the West's portrayal of Hussein as a tyrant on a scale with Stalin and Hitler, which is often dismissed as mere rhetoric, is in fact accurate.
Includes bibliographical references (p. -338) and index.
About the Author
Con Coughlin executive editor for London's Sunday Telegraph,
is one of the world's leading authorities on the Middle East. He is the highly acclaimed author of two prior books: Hostage,
the first full account of the hostage crisis in Lebanon in the late eighties, and A Golden Basin Full of Scorpions: The Quest for Modern Jerusalem,
a study of modem Jerusalem through the eyes of its citizens. Saddam: King of Terror
is his first book published in the United States.