To shave or not to shave, that was the question Saddam Hussein‘s captors faced; and the answer, writes The Washington Post‘s Philip Kennicot, was to produce photographs of an unshaven Saddam, looking like a disgraced prophet, and then a haggard but clean-shorn Saddam, lest anyone miss the message: The king is dead. In “Bearding the Tyrant,” Kennicot examines the images of the captive Saddam produced by the military and puts them in the context of myth and history — deep history, that is, from Croesus on the pyre to Richard the II.

It’s a nice bit of Joseph Campbellism in the news. For color, Kennicot turns to Francis Brooke, an adviser to would-be Iraqi strongman Ahmed Chalabi: The photographs, says Brooke, destroy Saddam’s “myth of being Nebuchadnezzar and Saladin, and the noble, chivalrous Arab leader.”

The Revealer recalls that Brooke, also a former advisor to Richard Perle, has another king in mind for the region: “Francis Brooke,” wrote Charles Glass in the June issue of Harper’s, “says he would support the elimination of Saddam, even if every single Iraqi were killed in the process. He means it. ‘I’m coming from a place different from you…. I believe in good and evil. That man is absolute evil and must be destroyed.’ … He says he believes in Jesus and in resurrection and in eternity. If all the Iraqis die, he says, they will live in eternity. But the ‘human Satan‘ must go, no matter what.”

Read more, and look again at the pictures that make the news.