School Library Journal - School Library JournalGr 5-8-These portraits offer assignment-driven readers coherent profiles well supported by side looks at cultural and historical backgrounds, maps, generally relevant color photos, and lists of easily available resources for further study. What the authors do not offer are specific sources for their information or more than perfunctory attempts to probe their subjects' characters and motives. Murdico tries for a relatively evenhanded portrait, focusing on bin Laden's religion and stopping (just) short of directly accusing him of masterminding the September 11th attacks; in contrast, Wingate sees Hussein, shaped by an early life "as hard as the land around him," as essentially a mad dog who deserved, and needed, to be brought down. Both authors shy away from criticism of U.S. policies or allegations; despite admitting the lack of direct evidence, for instance, Murdico refuses to close the door on supposed links between bin Laden and Hussein, and Wingate neglects to address the strange elusiveness of Iraq's stocks of WMDs. Neither biography covers events after September 2003, which makes Hussein seriously dated-but, despite its flaws, Murdico's study makes a viable alternative to Bill Loehfelm's alarmist Osama bin Laden (Lucent, 2003).-John Peters, New York Public Library Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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