Spent a good hour today reading his fascinating biography of American's current designated bogeyman, Saddam Hussein. Bowden is a superb writer, interspersing details of the Iraqi leader's life with observations about human nature. I was particularly impressed with this passage:
A young man without power or money is completely free. He has nothing, but he also has everything. He can travel, he can drift. He can make new acquaintances every day, and try to soak up the infinite variety of life. He can seduce and be seduced, start an enterprise and abandon it, join an army or flee a nation, fight to preserve an existing system or plot a revolution. He can reinvent himself daily, according to the discoveries he makes about the world and himself. But if he prospers through the choices he makes, if he acquires a wife, children, wealth, land, and power, his options gradually and inevitably diminish. Responsibility and commitment limit his moves. One might think that the most powerful man has the most choices, but in reality he has the fewest. Too much depends on his every move. The tyrant's choices are the narrowest of all. His life - the nation! - hangs in the balance. He can no longer drift or explore, join or flee. He cannot reinvent himself, because so many others depend on him - and he, in turn, must depend on so many others.
Tales of the Tyrant, by Mark Bowden