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28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An extraordinary read
I picked this up in a bookshop almost by accident, having vaguely remembered something about the fact that Bin Laden's wife and son had left his compound shortly before the attack on the Twin Towers. Frankly, even if it hadn't been about one of the world's most wanted men and his family, it would still have been riveting just for the glimpse it gives on another world...
Published on 26 Aug. 2011 by Mrs. S. D. R.

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An interesting read
I was left amazed at how this woman was willing to go through massive deprivation to live with her dominating and misogynist husband. Fascinating insight into a hidden world.
Published on 17 Feb. 2013 by boudicca


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28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An extraordinary read, 26 Aug. 2011
I picked this up in a bookshop almost by accident, having vaguely remembered something about the fact that Bin Laden's wife and son had left his compound shortly before the attack on the Twin Towers. Frankly, even if it hadn't been about one of the world's most wanted men and his family, it would still have been riveting just for the glimpse it gives on another world. How many novels or even factual books can you pick up written by Arab women about their closeted lives, their hopes, their fears, their secret existences - the things they are forced to accept or endure?

Yet here is Najwa Bin Laden - cousin, childhood friend and ultimately wife of decades of Osama - mother to 11 of his children - telling her moving and heartbreaking tale in a way that no loving mother could fail to relate to. The decency and gentle temperament of both Najwa and her son Omar, who for so long went along, out of love and respect, with the wishes of Osama bin Laden, shines through. For him they endured constant domestic instability, separation, and utter privation - with a lifestyle steadily deteriorating from comfortable residences in Jeddah and Mesina - and a rather less good life in Khartoum, to the misery of life in storm-tossed rock shacks on top of Tora Bora mountain - with Najwa enduring pregnancy in these miserable conditions. Short of food and with not even basic sanitation or cooking facilities for her enormous family and that of her sister wives - who were dragged around with her along with their children too - she put up with everything without complaint - even as he doubts and fears increased as she watched her husband turning into a world pariah.

It must have taken Omar enormous courage to cross his father as he did finally, making clear to his father that he found his fanaticism and love of war utterly wrong, but he did the right thing and saved his pregnant mother and smallest siblings by persuading their father to let them leave Afghanistan, although one trembled for the other young children that Osama forced her to leave behind, motherless. After the 9/11 attacks Najwa could never return to her children in Afghanistan, even after her baby was born.

From their story you can see certain things - that Osama had the potential to be a great man - a sort of Arab Ghandi - had he but been a man of peace. He was of the land and loved nature, involving himself in ambitious agricultural and building schemes which could have usefully absorbed his energies had he but abandoned jihad. But his post-Afghan war frustration - that of a soldier addicted to combat combined wih his religious goals - and co-jihadists like Ayman al Zawahiri - led him to increase his military activity. He went along with them, dragging his family into the mire alongside him. The finer qualities in him were strength of character, courage, respect, and a kind of tribal honour that led him to employ and protect fellow Mujahadeen from the Afghan war who were no longer allowed to return to their own countries. His downfall was his arrogance, fanaticism and blind obsession with violent action - concerning both his faith and his hatred for America. Omar makes a good point when he refers to the truth of America - that most of America doesn't care one way or the other much about Islam or Muslims - as long as they're left in peace. It's politics that's the problem.

There was something in Najwa's part of the story that illuminated her. She came across as almost saintly and such a loving, loyal person. In any faith she would be regarded as exceptional.

The story is gripping anyway; but the inherent sadness of the book seems to steadily increase - until the end when the near-madness and heartbreak really shake you.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant!!, 13 Feb. 2012
A man does not make a family, this is a fascinating book looking at the life and trials of a family and despite all the challenges and heartache they are a family like any other. It will change the way you look at things!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Incredible Read, 27 May 2013
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This review is from: Growing Up Bin Laden (Kindle Edition)
An very well written account of one of the most hated men by the people who knew him the most.

The book takes us on the journey from the son of a billionaire in Saudi to living in a cave in Tora Bora with no running water or electricity. It also gives us a fascinating insight to the quality of life in Saudi Arabia for a women married to a strict Muslim. There are sentences that will totally surprise you, one of the ones that stands out for me was when Osama asked his wife to look for another wife for him, in order to have as many children as possible. By the age of 32 he had fathered 9 children to 4 different women.

It's a real page turner and the story moves very quickly, there are maybe one or two anecdotes about Osama's father that could be shortened, but it doesn't take away from the amazing story.

This is a very easy, informative and extremely interesting read. Although the events are harrowing. The book isn't as long as the page numbers suggest as many pages contain photos and there is a large appendix.

Even if you're only slightly curious about Bin Laden, I highly recommend this book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nitty Grittys of Terrorism, 28 April 2013
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The book offers word for word accounts by one of Bin Laden's wives and one of his sons of their lives with him. The domestic life of public figures often reveals the true person behind the facade as does this book.

You can only admire Bin Laden's wife for her loyalty and integrity in her confined situation. Even from that position her account of the man and their life reveals clearly what he would like to have changed the world into. His human failings are fully revealed, sometimes in short phrases (don't miss them), and thus the views of all jihadists and to a lesser extent other terrorists.

Jean Sasson's careful translation and presentation of the accounts of these two lives fully conveys interesting and disturbing cultural aspects of Arab life (from a Westerner's point of view). What comes across clearly from the wife and son is the position of women and the degree of negation of their own personalities and potential in order to cater to male demands and vanities, in their ignorance, which is the culture. Bin Laden's lack of wisdom is compounded by the arrogance his culture bestows on him. Fortunately his wife's personality did triumph over her husband's in influencing her children. Her kindness and compassion towards her children appears to have had a greater influence on them.

Bin Laden's priority was his mission, not his family which has damaged them as well.

This book should be widely read as it is an education in terrorism and politics and easy to read.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I loved this book, 9 Jun. 2011
I found this book really moving and thought provoking. I dont usually bother writing reveiews but I did as this is a story that must be read . It gives great insight into the family and Osama Bin Ladens ways of thinking. It doesnt glamourize terrorism but shows how someones fundamentalist ideas can affect a whole family. I felt so sorry for the children and the wives of the man .. but was intriqued to learn maybe a new angle of what made Osama the man he became. a truly beautiful book, easy to read and genuinely fascinating.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant book, 8 May 2013
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This is a brilliant book, well worth reading. It takes you right into the heart of the Bin Laden family. Written before the raid on his house and eventual death.
Written/dictated by his first wife and one of his sons, it is exciting, heart stopping and a real page turner.
It shows how a person can be radicalised so easily given the right circumstances, and how his family suffered as a result.
His wives never dared disobey him, something that is largely alien to us in the west! I had some sympathy with his first wife but I could not understand how she could let such a tryrant take her, the other wives and children to such a remote place and practically reduce them to the verge of stravation!
I couldn't put it down. Highly recommended.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent read., 24 Dec. 2012
By 
M. Carwardine - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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An excellent insight into the background and personality of Osama Bin Laden. Written on behalf of his first wife and fourth son it gives a sympathetic and revealing view of the life and day to day existance of the Bin Laden family. It reveals some of the bizarre and sometimes brutal treatment of his children, his fanatical obsession with a desire to furnish the world with Muslins only and his hatred of the West, in particular, America. And running through the entire book is a careful account of a womans expectations once married!
Read it!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Intriguing story, 18 Nov. 2014
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I've always been interested in Osama Bin Ladin's family as I wondered how they felt about who & what he was. I feel for his wife & son, I cannot begin to imagine how 9/11 impacted them when they realised. Omar had a very complicated relationship with his father as they're very different.

A must read and please don't judge the rest of the family by him. They are like him
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sad World, 28 Oct. 2012
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Having read other interesting books by this author, I was tempted to give this one a go. - What makes people like bin Laden turn into fanatics? The sad thing is that he involved his near family/ies in facilitating his outrages plots. - The authors accounts told through the first wife and one of the sons is absolutely riveting. The book also contains a lot of other facts.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars So much that nobody knew, 2 Dec. 2012
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I have been astounding people for some time now with facts about Bin Laden and his family.......Well put together account of the private life of one of the worlds most secretive figures
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