In 1958, Baghdad had just three public sculptures. During the revolution, mobs destroyed one of King Faisal and another commemorating Stanley Maude, the British general who routed Ottoman forces in Iraq, leaving just one dedicated to an obscure prime minister. But, after thirty-five years of Baathist dictatorship, Baghdad is littered with monuments, most a legacy of Saddam's rule.
In this reprint of a 1991 work, Makiya analyzes the politics of art and architecture under Saddam Hussein. The son of one of Iraq's leading architects, Makiya is himself trained as an architect although he is better known for such seminal works as Republic of Fear  and Cruelty and Silence.
Makiya explores how, with increasing megalomania, Saddam sought to tie himself to legendary Islamic figures. He depicted himself on a white horse, drawing a clear parallel to Hussein, one of Shi‘ite Islam's most revered figures. Saddam—always sensitive to whispers that his mother was a prostitute—published a family tree showing direct descent to ‘Ali, the fourth caliph and the patron saint of Shi‘ism. During the years of the Iran-Iraq war, Saddam tied himself to Sa'ad ibn Abi Waqas, an early Arab warrior who brought Islam to Iran. Makiya dedicates a chapter to kitsch, examining everything from ordinary wall portraits to wristwatches, and the complicity of artists. Makiya examines how "an entire generation of Iraqi intellectuals collaborated with the Ba'thist regime in Iraq."
The bulk of Makiya's analysis regards Baathist monuments. Because Saddam Hussein micromanaged monument development, their structure provides a window into his mind and reflect his totalitarianism. Take the Victory Arch: higher than the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, this monument consists of forearms and fists holding crossed swords. The architects worked the arms from plaster casts of Saddam's own. They forged the swords from the steel of melted weapons of Iraqi soldiers killed on the battlefield with Iran. Five thousand Iranian helmets gathered off the battlefield complete the monument.
Chillingly, Saddam's monuments often foreshadowed the future rather than just commemorated the past. He initiated construction on the Martyr's Monument just seven months into the Iran-Iraq war, before there were many "martyrs" to glorify. He ordered work on the Victory Arch three years and tens of thousands of deaths before the end of the Iran-Iraq war.
Examination of Baathist art raises larger questions. How did an entire generation of Iraqi intellectuals come to collaborate with the Baathist regime? Makiya suggests that Saddam's monuments symbolize "a wholesale breakdown in the ability to judge right from wrong." While many policymakers know about Saddam on the world stage, The Monument provides an important key in trying to decipher Saddam's deeper imprint on Iraqi society.
 Berkeley: University of California Press, 1989.