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|edHelper's suggested reading level:||grades 9 to 12|
|Flesch-Kincaid grade level:||10.04|
By Kathleen W. Redman
1 History may remember Saddam Hussein alongside some of the world's worst political leaders. He was a cruel dictator of Iraq, a country whose population suffered unspeakable horrors under his heavy hand. This onetime farm boy rose from a difficult upbringing to become a president who modernized Iraqi society and promoted a secular government in a region where religious rule was the norm. Along the way, Hussein developed tools of terror that kept the Iraqi people in fear of running afoul of his government.
2 Saddam Hussein was born April 28, 1937, in a little village outside the Iraqi town of Tikrit. His mother chose his Arabic name, which means "one who confronts." Unfortunately for Saddam's family, confrontation and upheaval were common even before Saddam was born. Saddam's father left the family six months before Saddam was born. Not long after that, Saddam's thirteen-year-old brother died of cancer. After he was born, Saddam was sent to live with his uncle until he was three.
3 Saddam's mother remarried, and Saddam returned home to find an abusive stepfather. At ten years old, Saddam ran away to return to his uncle. It was there that Saddam was introduced to a culture that would deeply affect his adult life. His uncle taught him to never back down from a fight. His uncle raised him in the ways of Sunni Muslims and got him involved in the nationalistic Ba'ath Party.
4 Saddam joined the Ba'ath Party when he was 20. At the time, there were many social and political changes going on throughout the Middle East. A year after Saddam joined the party, army generals overthrew the king of Iraq. The Ba'athists didn't like the new government, so they - with a young Saddam's help - tried to assassinate the new prime minister. Saddam was shot in the leg and fled to Cairo, where he went to college.
5 Saddam returned in 1964, only to be thrown in jail. He escaped in 1967 and became one of the party's leading members. Another government overthrow brought the Ba'athists to power in 1968. By 1976, Saddam was a general in the government's army, and in 1979, he became president of Iraq. It was in this role that Saddam stayed until he was overthrown by U.S. and British forces in 2003.
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