Saddam Hussein's Ba'th Party: Inside an Authoritarian Regime / Edition 1

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The Ba'th Party came to power in 1968 and remained for thirty-five years, until the 2003 U.S. invasion. Under the leadership of Saddam Hussein, who became president of Iraq in 1979, a powerful authoritarian regime was created based on a system of violence and an extraordinary surveillance network, as well as reward schemes and incentives for supporters of the party. The true horrors of this regime have been exposed for the first time through a massive archive of government documents captured by the United States after the fall of Saddam Hussein. It is these documents that form the basis of this extraordinarily revealing book and that have been translated and analyzed by Joseph Sassoon, an Iraqi-born scholar and seasoned commentator on the Middle East. They uncover the secrets of the innermost workings of Hussein's Revolutionary Command Council, how the party was structured, how it operated via its network of informers, and how the system of rewards functioned. Saddam Hussein's authority was dominant. His decision was final, whether arbitrating the promotion of a junior official or the death of a rival or a member of his family. As this gripping portrayal of Saddam Hussein's Iraq demonstrates, the regime was every bit as authoritarian and brutal as Stalin's Soviet Union or Mao's China and some of the regimes in the Arab world who are witnessing upheavals, are not not dissimilar from the Bàth regime.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Sassoon has immersed himself in the documents and tapes of a regime that was meticulous in the recording of its savagery, and his scholarship imparts the original smell of fear as it elucidates. In the fast-diminishing roster of regional despots, Saddam and his personality cult came closest to being an Arab Stalin. Yet Sassoon brings out superbly that this was a system that was not totalitarian, but a balance of extreme violence and extravagant reward, a demonic machine to keep people down rather than determine what they believed. A chilling account of the inner workings of arguably the worst of the Arab security states."
David Gardner, International Affairs Editor, Financial Times, and author of The Last Chance: The Middle East in the Balance (2009).

"An absolute must-read for anyone interested in the structure of modern Arab authoritarian political systems. This is the first inside look at Saddam Hussein’s bureaucratic style of rule by rewards and punishments based on original party documents. Fair and judicious, it does much to revise the simple-minded view of the system as a totalitarian monstrosity based on Sunni domination of the Iraqi Shi’is."
Roger Owen, Harvard University

"An outstanding book. Sassoon takes Western readers inside the Iraqi Ba'th Party as no author has done before. Drawing on hundreds of thousands of Arabic documents and hours of recordings of Saddam’s governing council at work, this book provides an unparalleled case study of authoritarian politics in the Arab world. Engagingly written and remarkably balanced, Saddam Hussein’s Ba'th Party is a chilling reminder of the type of regime being overthrown in the Arab Spring."
Eugene Rogan, The Middle East Centre, University of Oxford

"Well-organized and lucidly written, Sasson's book is a valuable contribution to the modern history of a country still in the making. It is beneficial for the specialists working on the authoritarian Middle Eastern regimes as well as for the general reads willing to learn how an ambitious young activist, rejected by the national military academy, rose to power to become the sole leader of Iraq to an extent that his name meant the country, and how he succeeded in clinging to the power until 2003."
Marat Yasar, University of Toronto, Canadian Journal of History

"When serious academics start their inevitable investigations of what the Saddam Hussain regime in Iraq was like, most will inevitably turn to Joseph Sassoon’s impressive piece of scholarship, one that assembles under one cover the intricacies of what passed for a violent dictatorship … The book is filled with the horrors of the regime and must be widely read to sensitive masses to genuine political atrocities. It will, hopefully, be quickly translated into Arabic so that many more readers can learn of this true tragedy."
Joseph A. Kechichian, Gulf News

"In this well-written and extensively researched volume, Joseph Sassoon … provides critical insights into the functioning of the Ba’thist party and regime. Deftly analyzing the party’s internal structure, intelligence organizations, and relationship with the military, as well as Saddam’s personality cult, patterns of control and resistance, and bureaucracy and civil life under the Ba’th, [he] weaves a fascinating narrative of social control and repression."
Eric Davis, Perspectives on Politics

Library Journal
The Ba'ath Party came to power in Iraq in 1968 through Saddam Hussein's military coup and ruled that country until the U.S. invasion of 2003. Like most modern authoritarian regimes, Hussein's government produced and archived documentation of its policies, programs, and general activities. In April 2003, occupation forces captured millions of these documents and thousands of recordings of Hussein and his close Ba'ath Party associates, amounting to a treasure trove of firsthand information about Ba'athist Iraq and the inner workings of the Hussein regime. In this fascinating and highly informative book, Sassoon (adjunct, Ctr. for Contemporary Arab Studies, Georgetown Univ.), an Iraqi-born scholar, relies on the captured documents to provide a first-rate analysis of how Hussein and his associates ruled Iraq. Unlike books on Hussein's Iraq that have relied largely on secondary sources, this one benefits from the author's heavy use of primary material hitherto unavailable. VERDICT A must-read for both scholars of the contemporary Middle East and readers who wish to gain a broader understanding of how one-party authoritarian regimes exercise control and maintain power.—Nader Entessar, Univ. of South Alabama, Mobile
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521149150
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 1/31/2012
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 999,665
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Joseph Sassoon is Adjunct Professor at the Center for Contemporary Arabic Studies at Georgetown University. He is the author of numerous books including Economic Policy in Iraq, 1932–1950 (1987) and The Iraqi Refugees: The New Crisis in the Middle East (2009).
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Table of Contents

1. The rise of the Ba'th party; 2. Party structure and organization; 3. The Ba'th party branches; 4. Security organizations during the Ba'th era; 5. The Ba'th and the army; 6. The personality cult of Saddam Hussein; 7. Control and resistance; 8. Bureaucracy and civil life under the Ba'th.
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