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Thus begins this powerful story by Najwa bin Laden, who married her cousin Osama bin Laden at the age of 15 to become his first wife and the mother to 11 of his children, and her son, Omar bin Laden, the fourth-born son of Osama bin Laden. Together, mother and son tell an extraordinarily powerful story of a man hated by so many yet both loved and feared by his family, with spine-tingling details about the life and times of the man they knew as a husband and father, including:
Osama's disapproval of modern conveniences, including electricity and medicine
His plan to toughen up his sons by taking them into the desert without food or water
Transporting his wives and children to the rough terrain of Sudan, where he claimed to be preparing them for attacks from Western powers, commanding them to dig holes and to sleep in those holes, allowing nothing more than sand and twigs for cover
Omar's horror at the rape and murder of a boy his own age by members of a jihadist group living among them in the Sudan
What happened in the bin Laden home in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, on the morning of September 11, 2001, and Omar's surprise phone call with his mother, who escaped from Afghanistan only two days before the shattering events that killed so many innocent people
Since September 11, 2001, journalists have struggled to uncover carefully guarded information about Osama's private life. Until now, Osama bin Laden's family members have not cooperated with any writers or journalists. Now, with unprecedented access and insight, Jean Sasson, author of the best-selling Princess: A True Story Behind the Veil in Saudi Arabia, takes us inside the secret world of Osama bin Laden.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Curatina on 04-14-10
Fascinating. I could not stop listening.
This book is not a literary work, but rather the memories of Najwa and Omar, two people who knew Osama Bin Laden not as a hero or a villain, but as a husband and father. He was a man they both loved in different ways, but also became a man they had to break with in order to survive.
Najwa's strength is the strength of love and determination to bend her will to her husband's and make the best of increasingly difficult circumstances for herself and her children. Omar's story is that of a young boy who grew up idolizing his hero father, but also being extremely disturbed by the hardships his father made him suffer -- sometimes carelessly, and sometimes deliberately. Although there are vivid recollections of attacks and violence as well as severe deprivation, what fascinates is Omar's inner journey from violence and retaliation toward peace and reconciliation. That he was able to survive the constant messages justifying hatred and killing and retain his love of all of god's creation -- both animal and human, is remarkable.
Please listen with an open heart and mind to the lives of these people. There were a few turning points that might have averted the 9/11 attacks that are probably unknown the common man in the west before this book. The book deeply conveys that no matter how misguided we may consider Osama Bin Laden, he is a man convinced of his own righteousness and the justice of his mission. His family as well as the rest of the world, bears the scars of that obsession.
5 of 5 people found this review helpful
By Joy on 01-01-11
True grit and painful to hear
It must have been painful to write this book- it details one man's descent into extremist madness and the horrific toll it took on his wives and children. This book is a great read and gives some insight into a culture so different from our own; where husbands are king and wives and children are subjugated and raised according to the father's whims and beliefs. Thank God for America, I wouldn't last very long over there.....!
2 of 2 people found this review helpful