The extraordinary true story of Saddam's physician and favourite artist, who lived within the dictator's 'inner circle' for twenty years.
Ala Bashir, former dean of Medicine at Baghdad University and Iraq's most highly decorated doctor, was Saddam's personal physician from 1983 until spring 2003. He rose to prominence as a plastic surgeon during the Iran-Iraq war, performing over 22,000 operations on thousands of Iraqi soldiers. He is also Iraq's most award-laden artist. Saddam felt a particular affinity for Bashir's pictures, sculptures and monuments. Before long he welcomed Bashir into his inner circle, confiding in him in times of war and peace. From his vantage point as a "Saddam favourite", Ala Bashir observed and tracked political events in Baghdad. He also witnessed and recorded in detail the hidden life of Saddam's regime and family, the apprehension and extravagance, the partying and killings, the intrigues and power struggles. His is a shocking revelation of a regime's total disregard for human life and dignity. Bashir protected his writings and when he left Iraq in July 2003, he brought them out too. 'Saddam's Confidante' is his memoir, based on these hidden documents, and written with his close friend, Lars Sigurd Sunnana, one of Norway's leading journalists.