A book that, in the haunting tradition of In Cold Blood and The Executioner's Song, lifts away the top layer of evil and finds complexity beneath, this is the bizarre tale of 12 young American soldiers who are deployed to Iraq in the summer of 2006. Rather than fight the enemy in combat, the men are unexpectedly assigned to guard the country's notorious leader - Saddam Hussein - in the months leading to his execution.
Living alongside and caring for their "high-value detainee" in a former palace dubbed The Rock and regularly transporting him to his raucous trial, many of the men begin questioning some of their most basic assumptions.
Thoroughly researched and provocative, The Prisoner in His Palace contrasts two very different Saddams: the defiant younger man who uses torture and murder as tools and the older man who proves affectionate, charming, and unexpectedly courageous in the face of looming death. In this artfully constructed narrative, Saddam, the "man without a conscience", manages to get everyone around him to examine theirs. Many of those who bid good-bye to Saddam will be forever changed by the experience, and we wonder if we ourselves will.
I like this book which showed the imprisonment, trial and execution of Saddam Hassan from the perspective of the 12 U.S soldiers assigned to guard him during this time period with the back drop of the Iraq invasion.
It was an amazing book to me because you see the human side of Saddam a narcissist psychopath but who developed a bilateral friendship with these guards. A man who could kill his own people but save the crusts from his breakfast to feed the birds at the palace which became his prison. I know it sounds crazy but You kind of end up being inspired by Saddam Hassan in a way because of his life style and the relationship with these guards during this time period. The author takes you right up to, the point of and the time after his execution almost as if you are walking the steps of the gallows with him. It was interesting to me as to the way he died and the way he lived as well as his outlook on life during this time period.
I would highly recommend the book. It's an original.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
Behind every prisoner, murderer ,monster, dictator, a hidden human and you just need find it
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Did Saddam Hussein have a childhood filled with abuse? Yes. Was he a brutal dictator who tortured individuals and was responsible for the deaths of thousands upon thousands of groups and people? Most definitely. Was he a grandstanding showboater at his trial, one who spoke of the torture his captors inflicted on him even while grinningly apologizing to them because they actually treated him so well. Sure.
Was he a kind and sympathetic old grandpa type to the young men who watched him during his days before execution? Yes, he was that too. One who made the young men like and respect him? Yes, but I think that has more to do with the basic humanity of the young men, the Super Twelve as they dubbed themselves.
"The Prisoner in His Palace" is an account of some of Saddam's early life, some of his actions as heinous dictator, some of his bombast during his trial, some of his interactions with the Super Twelve. It paints the portrait of a normal man who lacked what the soldiers had in spades: empathy, if you're looking. His execution, his death, left the men conflicted and struggling in their lives afterward. There's not as much of the interactions between him and the young men as I would've liked, was looking for, but where there is shows that he could indeed be kind and sympathetic. So when he was executed, the men felt the horror of the coldness of offering someone up to death by execution rather than by a firefight in the heat of battle. How do you do that and live with yourself afterward? The conclusion shows that they all had problems with it, suffered because of it.
But it was because they were thinking, feeling, sensitive individuals, not because Saddam had a layer of warmth unknown to the rest of the world.
Make of it what you will with this book; it's fairly short so it doesn't really go as in-depth as a longer work could've. But I felt more for the soldiers than I did for Saddam...
6 of 9 people found this review helpful
This story is remarkable, wonderful, and intriguing. Highly recommend this for anyone who likes a story about soldiers.
Such a surprising story. One I knew nothing about and one that is disturbing in its insights into Saddam, the Iraq War, and the soldiers who fought there.
Author was thorough in obtaining a wide array of related interviews and mostly let the reader come to her own conclusions. A hard ending for many involved. "Had he and I but met..."
Would you listen to The Prisoner in His Palace again? Why?
Yes, I hated for this book to be over, yes Saddam was a man that did some horrible things but he was a product of his surroundings.
Who was your favorite character and why?
What does Danny Campbell bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?
The human side of Saddam
Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?
amazed that Saddam's favorite movie was... read it you will be too..
Amazon recommended this to me because I just read In Cold Blood and loved it. I was a little hesitant to read it because I'm not that interested in Saddam Hussein but I'm glad I did. This book is more about the psychological toll that guarding Saddam had on the American guards than a historical recounting of the dictator; although, it includes enough of Saddam's history for the reader to appreciate his gruesome rule. The author includes so much detail that you feel like you're in Iraq with the guards while also maintaining swift pacing. I'd definitely recommend it!