Which Leader Wrote What: The Answers

Made your decisions? If you haven't made your decisions go back to the quiz which is here.

The answers are:

Radovan Karadic, former President of the Republika Srpska, and currently awaiting trial for genocide wrote:

Goodbye, assassins, the boundaries between
The worlds are trampled
Instead of the heart, a hornet drones in vain.
History turned its back on us.
What should one shoot at?
Like an octopus, the age hides its vertebra,
And the winter approaches
With white drifts.

Saddam Hussein wrote a novel called Zabiba and the King. This is an extract from the first page:

Is not life in the midst of ordinary things filled with the most extraordinary things? Is its consistent flow not interrupted by some unexpected leaps? Could the colours of life be rich if the most ordinary things were not interspersed with miracles? Would a valley bring delight to the eyes of the one gazing at it if there no mountain peaks above it?

Chairman Mao, is a highly regarded poet in China. I do not speak Chinese at all, but I've been told by people more knowledgeable than myself, that you can appreciate his poetry even if you despise his politics. The following must have lost something in translation.

Yellow Crane Tower

Wide, wide flow the nine streams through the land,
Dark, dark threads the line from south to north.
Blurred in the thick haze of the misty rain
Tortoise and Snake hold the great river locked.
The yellow crane is gone, who knows whither?
Only this tower remains a haunt for visitors.
I pledge my wine to the surging torrent,
The tide of my heart swells with the waves.

Jimmy Carter, 39th President of the United States, wrote:


The miles of rubber trees bend from the sea.
Each of the million acres cost a dime
nearly two Liberian lives ago.
Sweat, too,
has poured like sap from trees, almost free,
from men coerced to work by poverty
and leaders who had sold the people's fields.

The plantation kiln's pink bricks
made the homes of overseeing whites
a corporation's pride
Walls of the same polite bricks divide
the worker's tiny stalls
like cells in honeycombs;
no windows breach the walls,
no pipes or wires bring drink or light
to natives who can never claim this place as theirs
by digging in the ground.
No churches can be built,
no privy holes or even graves
dug in the rolling hills
for those milking Firestone's trees, who die
from mamba and mosquito bites.

I asked the owners why.
The cost of land, they said, was high.

Colonel Gaddafi (at time of writing hurling death threats from beneath an umbrella) wrote:

On Death

Is death a male or a female? God knows ... My father killed the snake with his strong foot. But death ran away quickly from under my father's foot and masqueraded as another snake which intercepted my father on his way back home so when he put his hand in a bush, to light a fire, this second snake caught him and it emptied its poisonous saliva as one injection in his arm ... this time death expected its stubborn adversary not to escape. Yet it forgot that my father had vaccinated himself against snake poison by being bitten before.

Which, by a process of elimination means that Barack Obama wrote the following when he was a college freshman:


Under water grottos, caverns
Filled with apes
That eat figs.
Stepping on the figs
That the apes
Eat, they crunch.
The apes howl, bare
Their fangs, dance,
Tumble in the
Rushing water,
Musty, wet pelts
Glistening in the blue.

So what did you score? If you got five out of six, then something went wrong.

For the record, my favourite was Goodbye Assassins, and I thought Saddam's effort was the worst.

It's strange that there's so much water, so many animals, and so few humans. Why? There is an important political lesson to be learnt from all this, but I've not idea what it is.


  1. The Antipodean, who got 3 out of 6 right25 February 2011 at 13:46

    My half-wrong list is below, and I like Liberia. I couldn't decided which one I liked least, and now I've prejudiced myself by knowing who wrote them.

    Colonel Gaddafi, Underground
    Barack Obama, Extract
    Radovan Karadzic, Goodbye Assassins
    Chairman Mao, Yellow Crane Tower
    Jimmy Carter, Liberia
    Saddam Hussein, On death

  2. My rankings, with stars by the two I guessed right:

    1. Mao*
    2. Karadzic
    3. Saddam
    4. Obama
    5. Carter*
    6. Qaddafi

    I really liked Mao's, and Goodbye Assassins was also quite good. (Whom should one shoot? Maybe the dictator.) Liberia is just earnest banal prose and On Death is equally banal but also creepy. Obama's is nonsensical but funny (probably as a college freshmen he intended the monkeys to have some deep meaning) & the Hussein (like the Qaddafi) sounds like the ramblings of a dictator, though the idea is not too bad. The lesson? Maybe in order to feel qualified to lead men you have to see them as cattle or sheep (or monkeys, or octopodes).

  3. I was all set to defend Carter on the premise that it might've been prose, when I discovered that it was published as a poem. In a book of poems.

    The search revealead that Viggo Mortensen has published poetry - I am wondering how celebrity poetry differs (if at all) from political poetry. The head shots of the poets would be much more prominent, I should think.