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I Was Saddam's Son

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Overview

When Latif Yahia, scion of one of Iraq's wealthiest families, was summoned from the front in the Iran-Iraq War to Saddam Hussein's inner sanctum, the Palace of the Republic, he was given a choice: become the double of Saddam's eldest son, Uday...or die. Latif underwent surgery to modify his appearance and was trained to move, speak, and behave exactly like Uday. As the stand-in for one of Iraq's most powerful and hated men, he participated in affairs of state, made public appearances, and, during the Gulf War, ...
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Overview

When Latif Yahia, scion of one of Iraq's wealthiest families, was summoned from the front in the Iran-Iraq War to Saddam Hussein's inner sanctum, the Palace of the Republic, he was given a choice: become the double of Saddam's eldest son, Uday...or die. Latif underwent surgery to modify his appearance and was trained to move, speak, and behave exactly like Uday. As the stand-in for one of Iraq's most powerful and hated men, he participated in affairs of state, made public appearances, and, during the Gulf War, visited the troops on the front lines while Uday stayed safely in Switzerland. He also saw firsthand the horrors and absurdities of a regime based on corruption and intrigue. He was privy to unbridled scenes of debauchery, and witnessed repeated instances of torture, terror, rape, and murder. When Saddam's soldiers plundered Kuwait, Latif was there, both the tool of his master and the recorder of Iraqi crimes. In this expose, he tells what he saw and heard. After years of service to Uday, Latif escaped through Kurdistan, where he found refuge with American forces. His coauthor, Karl Wendl, the journalist who broke his story to the world, has written an epilogue covering key events in Iraq and within the regime since Latif's flight, culminating in the attempted assassination of Uday on December 12, 1996, and its aftermath.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
As the tabloid-style title suggests, this book is filled with the sort of sensational details that draw readers despite their better instincts. Thanks to an uncanny physical resemblance and an impeccable record as an Iraqi citizen and military officer, Yahia was forced to serve nearly four years as fidai (body double) to Uday Hussein, Saddam Hussein's reputedly violent son and heir. As an insider, Yahia was eyewitness to the regime's brutality. The authors provide accounts of palace life during the Iran-Iraq and Gulf wars, but they never lose sight of what really fuels their book: blood. Yahia chronicles the endless stream of tortures, rapes and murders he claims the Hussein clan thrives on. Near the end of the book, Yahia offers a vague admission of guilt for his cooperation with the regime: "The simple truth was that, while Saddam fears the people, the people also fear Saddam. Anyone who values his own life had better play along."In 1991, Yahia was severely tortured by Uday and unexpectedly released from service, then escaped to Europe. Originally published in Germany in 1994, this edition includes an epilogue by Wendl, the Austrian journalist who broke the news of Yahia's defection. An engrossing account of a car wreck of a life that one can't stop staring at. Illustrations not seen by PW. (Oct.)
Library Journal
In Iraq, where political leaders have traditionally been the targets of assassination, there exists an institution called fidai body double. The author, who bore a remarkable resemblance to Saddam Hussein's oldest son, Uday, was pulled out of the front lines during the Iran-Iraq War and transformed into an exact likeness of Uday. From that vantage point he was, he reports, privy to all the machinations and horrific excesses perpetrated on the Iraqi people by the family and government of Saddam Hussein. After serving in that capacity from 1987 to 1991, Yahia was imprisoned and tortured before being releasedthen fled to Europe, where he still lives. The author's message seems to be a warning to the rest of the world: "If you thought Saddam was a cruel tyrant, just wait until Uday takes over!" Although this work is easy enough to read, it is filled with graphic details of torture, murder, and rape. Recommended only for large collections in the subject area.David P. Snider, Casa Grande P.L., Ariz.
Booknews
Tortured and forced to undergo surgery to heighten his resemblance to Uday Saddam Hussein, Yahia served as the double of Saddam's son for four years. During that time he gained privileged access to the inner circle of Saddam's regime. He took part in the plunder of Kuwait and visited the troops behind Iraqi lines during the Gulf War. After a falling out with Uday, he was imprisoned, and then inexplicably let go. He was eventually able to escape through Kurdistan. No index. Translated from the Austrian edition. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780878339860
  • Publisher: Taylor Trade Publishing
  • Publication date: 8/15/1997
  • Pages: 400

Meet the Author

Latif Yahia was born in Baghdad in 1964. As a member of the wealthy upper class, he attended grammar school and university and carried out his military service. He was recruited into the dangerous job of body double because of his uncanny resemblance to Uday Hussein. After years of service, Yahia managed to flee to the West. He has survived several attempts on his life. Yahia now lives in exile with his wife and bodyguards.

Karl Wendl is a journalist based in Austria who has covered Iraq and the Gulf War, as well as the conflicts in Bosnia, Chechnya, Afghanistan, and Somalia. He lives in Vienna with his wife and son.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 24, 2004

    before you make a decision if the war on Iraq was 'worth' it.....read this book

    The content should wake up the western reader. This is probably only one book of many telling the 'real history' or life in Iraq. It is a must for adult educational information.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 21, 2004

    You can't put it down

    This book is a page-turner. It gives great insight into the brutality of the Saddam regime. The literary style is simple and not very sophisticated, but given that it's a narration and that the events speak for themselves, it's forgivable. Get this book!! It's difficult to read at times because the details are graphic and horrific, but it's reality.

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