Member Review

The President's Gardens

Pub Date:

Review by

Marialyce W, Reviewer

Last updated on 27 Apr 2018

I Recommend This Book


There is some beautiful highly effective writing in this fictitious tale of three friends living in a small village in Iraq. One of the friends will eventually spend twenty years in captivity as a POW in Iran, the other a scholar, while the third becomes the employee of a man who is ruthless ruler. They all come from a small village in Iraq and the book covers the time of the Iraq/Iran war as well as the Gulf War. The boys' lives as they grow into men contain secrets and through Al-Ramli's writing we gather an intimate portrait of their lives and the horrors that they faced.

It is not by any long shot, although never mentioned, that the blood thirsty leader described in this novel was Saddam Hussein and as the story continues we learn the horrors of what existed within the President's Gardens. Beautiful as they were to look at, they contained abominations that were demonic and horrific. 

This book is shocking and horrific starting in the first scene where five heads are delivered to the village and from there we learn the story of the boys growing into men as we look into the past. It is a look inside a country written by an Iraqi man. It gave the reader another perspective other than that of the American view and the world press. This author did a fantastic job of telling a story of three boys living in a primitive village and what the wars and their upheaval meant to them. Often gruesome as it is, it allows the reader to understand what the culture and mind set was as Iraq was lead by a leader who was as vile as he was cunning. We were given an intimate portrait of friends, their lives, and the utter turmoil of what it was like growing up in set afire.  

Thank you to Muhsin Al-Ramli, Quercus MacLehose Press, and NetGalley for a copy of this most moving story.

Buy this Book on