Hello I'm Milo for About.com and today we're talking about the former leader of Iraq, Saddam Hussein. Born into a rural family in the northern Iraqi town of Tikrit in 1937, Saddam was born to a single mother who had trouble raising him by herself. Saddam's mother eventually remarried to a cruel man, who treated Saddam brutally. When Saddam was 10, he wanted to escape this harsh life, and thus requested that he go live with his maternal uncle. His mother agreed. Saddam's uncle had a profound influence on Saddam's life. To begin with, it was at this point that Saddam received his first formal education. Saddam continued studying and learning but it wasn't enough for him to get into military school. Dejected, Saddam found a new path from one of his uncle's passions – politics. Saddam's uncle was involved in the nationalist Ba'ath Party, which Saddam joined in 1957 at age 20. Just a year later, in 1958, a military coup overthrew the ruling monarch King Faisal II, ending the monarchy in Iraq. However, sentiment quickly turned against the new Prime Minister and the impressionable young Saddam was chosen as part of a squad tasked with assassinating him. After the planned ambush failed, Saddam fled the country. Saddam lived in Egypt until 1963 when the Iraqi government was successfully overthrown by the Ba'athists. However, the new government soon fell. Saddam then participated in another failed coup, after which he was arrested. Saddam spent 18 months in prison where he was tortured before eventually escaping and continuing his rise within the Ba'ath party hierarchy. When the Ba'athists retook power definitively in 1968, Saddam became Vice President - a position from which he wielded ever-increasing power through the 1970s. Saddam's intention to move Iraq to an oil-based economy with higher living standards cemented his grip on power from behind the scenes. In 1979, Saddam officially rose to the position of President and set about the creation of a personality cult as well as the continued brutal elimination of all opposition. Throughout much of the 1980's Saddam led a war with neighboring Iran, which ended in stalemate in 1988. Then in 1990, Saddam ordered the invasion of Kuwait on the premise that it was wrongly separated from Iraq at the end of British imperial rule of the region. The US protected Kuwait and successfully defeated Saddam in what was called the Persian Gulf War. After the terrorist atrocities of September 11th, 2001, the US and its allies attacked and defeated Iraq once more, this time resulting in the fall of Saddam's regime. Saddam fled Baghdad, only to be discovered hiding in a hole in the ground near his hometown of Tikrit in December 2003. Tried for his crimes against humanity, Saddam was hanged on December 30th 2006.For more excellent, insightful, and interesting information on the 20th Century, check us out at About.com.