Growing Up bin Laden

  • by Jean Sasson, Najwa bin Laden, Omar bin Laden
  • Narrated by Mel Foster
  • 14 hrs and 10 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

"I was not always the wife of Osama bin Laden. Once I was an innocent child dreaming little girl dreams."
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.


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

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.

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- Curatina

Could Not Stop Listening!

Would you listen to Growing Up bin Laden again? Why?

I would definitely revisit this book in a year or two and recommend it to students studying history.

What was the most compelling aspect of this narrative?

Hearing the progression of Osama bin Laden as a man from a prominent family to an extremist who put his goals ahead of everything else in the name of his religion.

Which scene was your favorite?

Life on Tora Bora was so descriptive, I felt like I was up on that mountain braving the storms and the snakes. The edge of that mountain was indeed the

What’s the most interesting tidbit you’ve picked up from this book?

I enjoyed learning about the Islamic customs and how the 4th son became the closest to Osama bin Laden

Any additional comments?

I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to learn more about Osama bin Laden the man.

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- Linda

Book Details

  • Release Date: 11-10-2009
  • Publisher: Tantor Audio