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26 of 27 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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1 of 1 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 20 months ago by boudicca


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26 of 27 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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6 of 6 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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9 of 10 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 An Incredible Read, 27 May 2013
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This review is from: Growing Up Bin Laden: Osama's Wife and Son Take Us Inside their Secret World (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 Absolutely brilliant, 23 Jan 2012
A very interesting book with lots and lots of facts about Osama's life. Very well researched, organized and beautifully written. Definitely worth a read !!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars enlightening and fascinating, 31 July 2014
By 
David Simpson (Perth, Scotland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Growing Up Bin Laden: Osama's Wife and Son Take Us Inside their Secret World (Kindle Edition)
This was a fantastic account of the Bin Laden family and their traumatic life
I would like to congratulate Najwa and Omar for their tenacity and courage.
I would love to know if now in 2014 they were happy and re-united with children and siblings.
Osama Bin Laden was a cruel man and showed his contempt for his family when he abandoned them .
I am a Christian but he certainly wasn't a true Muslim . My understanding of Islam is a religion of peace and forgiveness.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read, 31 Mar 2014
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This is an excellent book. It gives a real insight into the lives of Bin Laden's family and how they coped, not just the side of him that was portrayed by the press.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great eye-opening book, 19 Sep 2013
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This review is from: Growing Up Bin Laden: Osama's Wife and Son Take Us Inside their Secret World (Kindle Edition)
I would recommend this book to everyone how like to read real stories. I really enjoyed reading another Jean Season's book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great, 13 Aug 2013
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This review is from: Growing Up Bin Laden: Osama's Wife and Son Take Us Inside their Secret World (Kindle Edition)
A really interesting look into the children's lives of Osama, for any culture or religion, it's an eye opener of how hard some people had it
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1 of 1 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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