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Iraqi dictator Saddam’s ‘House of Cards-style’ book set for English release

During his rule of Iraq, Saddam found the time to write four novels and several poems

Published: Updated:

If you’re looking to take a closer look into the mind of late Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, you won’t have to wait long.

A short novel written by Saddam, who was dragged from his a hideout by US troops in 2003 and executed by Iraqi authorities three years later, is set for its first English-language release in December, marking the 10th anniversary of his death.

Described by its independent London-based publisher Hesperus as “a mix between Game of Thrones and the UK House of Cards-style fiction,” the book was written and finished shortly before the 2003 US invasion of Iraq.

During his rule of Iraq, Saddam found the time to write four novels and several poems. The novella has been published several times - in Arabic, Turkish and even Japanese - under the title of either ‘Begone, Demons’ or ‘Get Out, You Damned One,’ but never into English. In 2005, the New York Times commented that the tome was a “forgettable piece of pulp” that “will not win any literary awards.”

‘Piece of pulp’

A year earlier, the unpublished book had gone into circulation underground without the author's name. Pan-Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat published the book in serial form. The in 2005, Saddam’s exiled daughter Raghad said she would publish the 186-page book in Jordan, where it was soon banned.

Previously published in other languages, the novella focuses on a tribe living by the Euphrates river 1,500 years ago which topples an invading force, UK paper The Guardian reported.

The novella's theme bears some resemblance to Saddam’s real life. Growing up in poverty on the banks of the Tigris river, the young boy - whose name in Arabic means “the one who confronts” – was taken to self-defense, often carrying around an iron bar to protect himself.

Then later in life, as president, Saddam memorably purged parliament of people he deemed disloyal, ordering the session to be videotaped. Invasions of Iran in 1980 and Kuwait in 1990 would follow, until a US-led invasion on Iraq in 2003 toppled Saddam’s 24-year reign.

A 2011 review in The Guardian of another of Saddam’s books, Zabibah and the King, suggested that Saddam had not used a ghostwriter – at least for one of his novels. “It is so poorly structured and dull that it has the whiff of dictatorial authenticity,” the review said.