Saddam Hussein's reign of terror began at a very early age and only escalated as he made his way through the ranks of the Iraqi government. While many Americans know of Saddam Hussein for Desert Storm, that military campaign was just the culmination of decades of terror and torture masterminded by Saddam. Enter the terrifying world of one of the twentieth centuries' most feared, loathed and notorious tyrants. Presenting an explanation of Middle Eastern history and geography, the reader is given a good information base to understand the rest of the book. Stefoff provides a wonderful introduction to Saddam Hussein and his reign of terror. Her use of information is effective in telling the reader of Hussein's upbringing in an abusive household as well as his many exploits before becoming involved in Iraq's government. While this book gives the reader a look into Hussein's terrible reign, Stefoff avoids creating a tone of anti-Hussein bias. 2000, The Millbrook Press, Ages 12 to 17, $22.40. Reviewer: John D. Orsborn
School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up-Stefoff opens this biography with Iraq's pre-dawn invasion of Kuwait (August 2, 1990), and then goes back in time to recount Saddam Hussein's early life in Tikrit, a rural town on the Tigris River. The history of Mesopotamia and the rise of modern Iraq are intertwined with the subject's personal story. The last two chapters provide an overview of Desert Storm and its aftermath, including references to the 1993 retaliatory raid launched when the U.S. learned of Iraq's assassination plot against George Bush. Although the author acknowledges that Saddam is often compared to Hitler and Stalin, her own label for him is ``a survivor.'' She shows how he has risen, like a phoenix, from the ashes of poverty, prison, plots against his life, insurrections, and international warfare. The portrait of this enigmatic man holds readers' attention, but the recounting of the Persian Gulf War sparks the most interest. Black-and-white photographs and illustrations are interspersed throughout. A compact and lucidly written volume that updates Nita Renfrew's Saddam Hussein (Chelsea, 1993).-Pat Katka, San Diego Public Library
Grounded in the complex history of the Middle East, Stefoff's biography of Iraq's infamous leader is intricately interwoven with the events that have given rise to Saddam Hussein's reputation. Forged from a childhood of abandonment and abuse, minted by murder and prison, Hussein learned early that the creation of a bloody myth holds people captive to a paralyzing fear of its originator. Stefoff has written not only an insightful biography of this world leader, but has also crafted an excellent history of the Middle East, especially Iraq. Much of Iraq's recent traumatic history can be traced to Hussein's power-hungry ambition; Stefoff carefully links the country's last two wars and domestic and foreign policy to the dictator's ambitions. This well-written biography makes edifying, if uneasy, reading. Chronology; chapter notes; bibliography.