The Prisoner in His Palace: Saddam Hussein, His American Guards, and What History Leaves Unsaid

Scribner. Jun. 2017. 272p. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781501117831. $26; ebk. ISBN 9781501117855. POL SCI
In August 2006, 12 U.S. military policemen were assigned to guard former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein (captured in December 2003) during his trial. There are two points to writer and former army infantry officer Bardenwerper's book: 1) how Hussein often acted like a fairly normal man in interactions with his guards, although he was always aware of the political (and farcical) aspects of the whole situation; and 2) how most of the guards, just ordinary guys doing their duty, developed some form of attachment to him as an individual with interesting stories and background. Everyone knew what Hussein's fate would be (he was hanged on December 30, 2006). Most of the source material for this book was gathered through interviews with the guards and government records. While the politics of the complicated situation are not ignored in this easy-to-read chronicle, it is much more a human interest story, with details of the everyday life of a high-value prisoner and his captors and how the guards were affected by it all. For more up-close observations about Hussein's captivity, read Caring for Victor by Robert Ellis, an army nurse who cared for Hussein.
VERDICT Suitable for all readers.
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