What We Are Reading Today: State of Repression — Iraq Under Saddam Hussein

Updated 13 July 2018
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What We Are Reading Today: State of Repression — Iraq Under Saddam Hussein

  • In her book in State of Repression, Lisa Blaydes challenges this belief by showing that the country’s breakdown was far from inevitable.  

How did Iraq become one of the most repressive dictatorships of the late twentieth century? The conventional wisdom about Iraq’s modern political history is that the country was doomed by its diverse social fabric. But in State of Repression, Lisa Blaydes challenges this belief by showing that the country’s breakdown was far from inevitable.  

Drawing on archival material captured from the headquarters of Saddam Hussein’s ruling Ba’th Party in the wake of the 2003 US invasion, Blaydes illuminates the complexities of political life in Iraq, including why certain Iraqis chose to collaborate with the regime while others worked to undermine it, says a review on the Princeton University Press website.

She demonstrates that, despite the Ba’thist regime’s pretensions to political hegemony, its frequent reliance on collective punishment of various groups reinforced and cemented identity divisions.

At the same time, a series of costly external shocks to the economy—resulting from fluctuations in oil prices and Iraq’s war with Iran—weakened the capacity of the regime to monitor, co-opt, coerce, and control factions of Iraqi society.

In addition to calling into question the common story of modern Iraqi politics, State of Repression offers a new explanation of why and how dictators repress their people in ways that can inadvertently strengthen regime opponents.


What We Are Reading Today: Ever the Leader

Updated 12 December 2018
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What We Are Reading Today: Ever the Leader

Author: William G. Bowen

Ever the Leader gathers together selected speeches and writings from one of the great scholars and commentators of higher education. William G. Bowen’s career at Princeton University — from economics professor to provost to a 16-year tenure as president — was marked by extraordinary accomplishments during times of great change, both at the university and in the country. But it was in Bowen’s second act, as president of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and founding chairman of ITHAKA, that he took the lessons he learned as a highly productive leader of one of the nation’s most esteemed universities and applied them to a broader set of problems in higher education. This volume of work from Bowen’s later career captures this expansion of his thought and influence.
Comprising remarks and articles on the subjects of university values, educational opportunity, college sports, technology, and colleagues and peers in higher education leadership, Ever the Leader is more than just a concis e distillation of Bowen’s research and thinking on some of the most urgent issues of the day — it is a portrait of leadership in action. The selected papers, talks, and articles exemplify Bowen’s commitment and singular ability to communicate strong, persuasive arguments for change.
and to motivate others to engage with the truly hard questions facing higher education leaders.