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"Growing Up bin Laden" is not just one of Jean's very best books but one of the best books that I have ever had the pleasure of reading. I cannot begin to tell you how utterly fascinating and educational "Growing Up bin Laden" is.
The book is actually the autobiographies of 2 people; Omar bin Laden and his mother, Najwa. What makes their story so exceptional is that they are both forever connected to the notorious serial-terrorist, Osama bin Laden.
Before I read this book I held very little regard for Omar bin Laden as the US media has portrayed him as a person hungry for attention and publicity. But after reading his story I have a new understanding of him. Although he is the son of a horrible murderer and monster, he is also a very sensitive man who endured a horrific life.
I never heard of Najwa bin Laden prior to this book. And I was very surprised to read her story because it was both shocking and gripping. She marries bin Laden at a young age and dedicates the rest of her life to being a dedicated and devoting wife.
There are some aspects of the story that are not just shocking, but even terrifying. For example, why was Najwa so devoted to her husband (who she is still married to)? Why didn't she ever criticize him? And why hasn't Omar denounced his father? I think once you read the full story you will get a better picture of their life and these questions will ALL be answered.
The short answer is that in the Middle Eastern culture (especially in parts of the world like Saudi Arabia) a man's word is law. It is part of the culture not to ever demean a father/husband. It just doesn't happen under any circumstances. (I speak from knowledge as I am of 100% Arab ancestry)
The chapters are each written separately. Some are by Najwa and some are by Omar. It is written in first person and also includes some explanatory text interspersed by Ms. Sasson to educate the readers which makes the book flow a lot better because it adds a sense of continuity.
It's difficult to say which of the protagonists I preferred. At first, I think Najwa was just a touch more gripping. But as the book progressed, especially towards the final chapters I found myself hanging on every word that Omar wrote.
I think it's also important to remember Jean's contribution to "Growing up bin Laden." Although it was written by 2 other people and although Jean's name appears last on the title page, this is 110% her book. No other authoress could have pulled off this mammoth endeavor because Jean is such a respected writer throughout the entire world.
Jean Sasson's writing is also eye-opening and always absorbing because she doesn't over dramatize anything. This book is not sensationalized in the least. Instead, it is an honest depiction of Omar's and Najwa's stories.
The book is written up until the horrible tragedies of September 11, 2001. There is very little info given about the actual event as neither Omar nor Najwa were involved in any of the terror activities of Osama bin Laden. Instead the book describes how this family was torn apart.
Also included in the book are maps and information on the countries that the family lived in. Besides Saudi Arabia, they also lived in The Sudan and Afghanistan.
What was interesting to me was how Najwa explained how things keep getting worse and worse for her and her children as her husband became more and more fanatical. For example, it got so bad that they were forced (by her callous husband) to live without electricity or any "modern conveniences" such as inhalers for her sons who had severe asthma. On the surface, I have to ask myself how a woman can stay with a monster, a monster that treats her and her children like this. Again this is something that is wonderfully detailed in "Growing up bin Laden." Najwa went out of her way to explain why she chose to stand by this beast.
This is both a relaxed and an engrossing reading experience.
 

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A poignant and tragic story that truly must be read. The book includes a lot of never-before-known info that was only told to the writer. Jean Sasson was the only author that has ever been able to interview both serial-terrorist's Osma bin Ladin's first wife, and son Omar.

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Only read this book if you want to read fiction. Because 'Growing Up Bin Laden' is one of Jean Sassons hoax-books. Osam'a bin Laden's son Omar, and his mother Najwa, had in reality very little, if anything to do with. The book-deal went ahead thank's to Omar's English Grandmother-wife Felix and Jean Sasson. Those shameless females milked Omar bin Laden-name for all it's worth and then some. He was their meal-ticket. Omar has since cottoned on. He divorced Felix and want's nothing more to do with either of those females.
After the Growing Up Bin Laden book was published, Omar was asked by Journalists about some stories in the book which he is supposed to have told to Jean Sasson which left him in shock, because he found out the hard way that there was massive nasty stuff written about his father Osama which he had never ever said.
Sasson wrote a lot of lies about Osama bin Laden while hiding behind a clueless Omar.
It is a fact: All of Jean Sasson's book's are peppert with heaps of her own made up lies. This womans negative, nasty imagination is working overtime and she gets paid for it. Hey, is'nt that grand! Sasson's deceit started with THE RAPE OF KUWAIT, followed by PRINCESS and so on. Her Princess and Daughters of Arabia books were written from an Austrian ladies unpublished autobiography about her life in Kuwait, Arabia. Sasson made use of that over 500 page manuescript without permission of the rightful owner and used it to write the Princess-books. Where I come from we call it theft. .
For all the reasons mentioned above, don't buy any of Jean Sasson's books. If you have to, better to go to a Library.
 

User Review - Flag as inappropriate

Couldn't put it down. What a woman his wife is. The more horrible and extreme Osama became the more I had respect for his wife and what she had to put up with while never complaining. I guarantee if my husband wanted to drag me and my small children into some hole out in the desert somewhere I wouldn't let the door hit him on his backside.  

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Excellent insight into the Bin Laden family.

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