Bardenwerper, a military veteran, has made a probe of the MPs’ feelings, as they morphed over time and association with Saddam, and carries it off with balanced aplomb ... In chapters that are short and jumpy, what ultimately emerges is how to comport oneself in the world ... This is no reverse Stockholm syndrome at play, Bardenwerper convincingly suggests, but a bracing affirmation — a great Whitmanesque hug — of human dignity in the face of all that is harrowingly wrong.
Bardenwerper gives the reader a close look at a real-life supervillain, and how easy it is for him to gather minions at his feet. Bardenwerper’s tightly-constructed and engaging book is compiled from court transcripts, historical accounts, interrogation records, and his own interviews. He relates multiple perspectives of Saddam Hussein’s influence and the long shadow he casts over Iraq. Bardenwerper plays the narrative straight, and his own opinion never overshadows his sources.
An Iraq war veteran himself (but not in the Super Twelve), Bardenwerper has written an exceptional debut. Coupled with his knowledge of military rules and customs, his storytelling skills — confident but never showy prose, a terrific sense of pacing — make for an enlightening piece of journalism … Though there are glimpses of Saddam’s soul, this isn’t a book that soft-pedals his horrible misdeeds. Bardenwerper recounts several instances in which Saddam ordered indiscriminate killings ...In the closing pages, Bardenwerper brings his story into the present, giving us a look at the post-Iraq lives of the Super Twelve. It’s here that the book’s primary point — that the consequences of war are ultimately immeasurable — is most effectively made.