Saddam Hussein Wrote A Romance Novel And You Can Buy It For Valentine's Day

NY Mag

With Valentine's Day just around the corner, many couples are still scrambling to find the perfect gift for their significant other - but with the release of one book, all of their problems might be solved.

Contrary to popular belief, Saddam Hussein wasn't just a ruthless dictator who ruled Iraq with an iron fist, but was also a writer on love and passion.

For two-and-a-half decades, Hussein was the president of the Middle Eastern country, which significantly overshadowed his presence as a novelist.

In 2000, Hussein published "Zabiba and the King," a 160-page romance novel about an Iraqi king (clearly based on Hussein himself) and a lowly villager named Zabiba, who you guessed it: he falls in love with.

In the story, Zabiba and the king develop their blossoming relationship by conversing for hours about religion, love, nationalism, and the will of the people.

But the highlight of the love story? The greatly detailed sex scene between a shepherd and a bear, which is believed to be a representation of the relationship between Iraq and Russia.

The novel is for sale on Amazon, where it currently holds a 2.4 star ranking. Reviewers have voiced their opinions, varying from pure pleasure to absolute incredulity.

"Saddam Hussein's romantic fable "Zabiba and the King" is a fascinating and moving work which provides a unique insight into the psyche of the former Iraqi dictator... [The book] appears to be a genuine attempt by Saddam Hussein to resolve some of the contradictions in his own nature and his political philosophy. While CIA analysts focused on the allegorical dimension of the novel, it is open to multiple interpretations like all genuine works of literature," Amazon reviewer Alison wrote.

"If you're going to buy this book, buy it as an historical curiosity, not for literary entertainment. It is a complete trainwreck of a book," fellow reviewer Mike Lewis contradicted. "The book, overall, is a painful mess to slog through."

However, not everybody believes Hussein wrote the book himself.

Since the novel's 2000 publication, there has been debate if Hussein had penned the novel himself.

According to Business Insider, the novel was initially published anonymously, but because it faced no criticism by the government for its political themes, analysts believe it could only have been "authorized by Saddam himself."

CIA agents analyzed the novel to gain potential insights from the former dictator's perspective, where it was determined the book was likely written by ghostwriters with Hussein's supervision, The New York Times reports.

But despite the CIA's conclusion, others are still voicing their doubts.

"Some critics have suggested that "Zabiba and the King" was ghostwritten. I doubt that: it is so poorly structured and dull that it has the whiff of dictatorial authenticity," Daniel Kalder reviewed for The Guardian in 2011.

Would you read Zabiba and the King?