Will Bardenwerper served as an Airborne Ranger-qualified infantry officer in Iraq and is now author of a remarkable book, soon to be made into a major motion picture, about Saddam Hussein’s last days in 2006 and the twelve US soldiers assigned to guard him before his execution. According to USA Today, The Prisoner in His Palace: Saddam Hussein, His American Guards, and What History Leaves Unsaid “toggles from a nonstop supply of terror to occasional scenes of normal life [giving] . . . a brief, but powerful, meditation on the meaning of evil and power.” The guards cared for their “high value detainee” in a former palace dubbed “The Rock,” and regularly transported him to his raucous trial. In court, and back in the palace, the soldiers began questioning their own assumptions about the enemy, justice, and the morality of war. They also discovered a Saddam not shared in the media–evil, certainly, but inescapably human. The book represents the most complete and complex portrait of the brutal Iraqi dictator, drawn from a wide variety of sources and perspectives, including his interrogators, family members, and victims. The Prisoner in His Palace also shows the growth in perspective and self-understanding in the presence of an enemy once deemed “Other.”

Enjoy this fascinating conversation that extends far beyond the war in Iraq.

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