The Baath coup of July 30, 1968, established a government led by an esteemed senior military officer, Ahmad Hasan al-Bakr, a member of the Free Officers. But while al-Bakr was the public face of the Baathist regime, his much younger cousin, Saddam Hussein, led the party. Saddam shared certain characteristics with the notorious Russian leader Joseph Stalin, whom he reportedly came to admire. Both came from lower-class backgrounds and had difficult, abusive childhoods. Both engaged in violent activities as revolutionaries. Neither had served in their countries’ armed forces, which they later came to command. For both the path to power was through playing a central role in organizing and leading their expanding revolutionary parties. And just as Stalin determined the ultimate outcome of the Bolshevik Revolution, Saddam shaped the structure of the institutions that resulted from the Iraqi Revolution.