Final Months of Saddam Hussein’s Life — and His Mary J. Blige Obsession — Revealed

'The Prisoner in His Palace,' a book written by one of his American guards, tells all.

June 5, 2017 5:00 am

A new book claims Saddam Hussein spent his final days eating muffins, listening to Mary J Blige on the radio and tending to the garden of his Baghdad prison.

Will Bardenwerper, an American guard stationed at the former Iraqi dictator’s prison, reveals that intel in his new book, The Prisoner in His Palace: Saddam Hussein, His American Guards, and What History Leaves Unsaid. The account carefully documents the months that Hussein spent in prison awaiting trial for ordering the execution of 148 opponents.

Bardenwerper was one of 12 guards from the 551st Military Police Company assigned to watch Hussein, who was hanged in 2006. According to an excerpt from The Prisoner in His Palace that ran in London’s Daily Mail, Hussein loved the “scrubby prison garden” and had a fondness for sweets and Cohiba cigars.

Bardenwerper wrote that Saddam liked to sit outside on a patio chair or write at his desk. The former dictator would also turn up the radio whenever Mary J Blige came on. He had an Iraqi flag hung on his wall.

Eventually the guards created a kind of friendship with Saddam, though the soldiers will never know if it was all an act or a “genuine human connection.” They would swap stories about their families, though Hussein’s best annecote ended with him lighting all of his son’s cars on fire after the brat went on a deadly shooting spree.

In a surprising twist, Bardenwerper admits in the book that the solider guards grieved for Saddam when he was executed, despite the despot’s status as a sworn enemy of the United States.

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