As instant histories go, this one is readable and generally reliable. The author has been to Iraq often enough to convey a sense of what Saddam's regime is like, but the story does not go much beyond well-known anecdotes. If, as the author implies in the conclusion, there is a little bit of Saddam Hussein in every Iraqi, then we need more than an account of how terrible Saddam is. But can such a sweeping condemnation of a whole people really be supported? At a minimum, one needs more of a sense for the history and culture of the country. The most original parts of the book have to do with American policy toward Iraq. Unfortunately there are no notes to tell us from where such tidbits as Gorbachev's verbatim conversation with Secretary Baker in early November 1990 might have come.
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