Jean's Reviews > Growing Up bin Laden: Osama's Wife and Son Take Us Inside Their Secret World

Growing Up bin Laden by Najwa bin Laden
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's review
Oct 03, 2010

it was amazing
bookshelves: not-the-us, power-control, relationship-m-w, relationship-parent-child, social-justice, war

To write this fascinating book, Jean Sasson extensively interviewed both Osama Bin Laden’s first wife and one of the eleven children she bore during their marriage. Osama’s strong will, power, and stoic idealism are brought forward through their direct observations. As Osama was close lipped with all members of his family, there are few details as to how Osama planned and executed the September 11 attacks and with whom he associated in his terroristic acts.

His son does speculate on why his father acted as he did. One of his theories is that Osama took a turn for the fanatical when the Saudi royal family spurned Osama’s offer to help defend Saudi Arabia from Iraq, and instead welcomed US forces. At the time of Osama’s offer, he was considered a heroic war genius for having ousted the Russians from Afghanistan with his Mujahideen soldiers. To Osama, Saudi Arabia had too much “secular pollution” and their embrace of the US was confirmation that strict Islamism was not being taken seriously.

Osama moved his family to Somalia, where his stoic idealism seemed to be morphing into harshness bordering on insanity, at least in his way of dealing with his family. By this time he had several wives. The wife and son interviewed for this book remember miserable marches overnight in the desert, on Osama’s order. Sometimes all food and water was denied, and no extra clothes or blankets allowed for the freezing night. Instead, Osama insisted all dig shallow grave like holes in the ground and cover themselves with dirt for warmth. And these excursions seemed mild compared to the accounts of family life later on the bleak Afghanistan mountain of Tora Bora. Every “luxury” was absent (by this time Osama considered even running water and heat in the home a luxury).

I was struck by how throughout the book women and children seemed to have no power or voice compared to Osama’s. They routinely filed onto planes or into cars on Osama’s orders afraid to ask where they were bound, or in general to ask any question. Osama’s wife’s philosophy seemed to be to unquestioningly accept whatever hardship or difficult circumstance Osama’s wishes engendered.

The book left me feeling Osama has many legitimate grievances and genuinely wishes to make the world “a better place.” However, his better place would be tightly controlled, patriarchal, and totally Islamic. I give this book 5 stars for readability, interest and its relevance to our world today.
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Jean Sounds like "Mona" is a the dishonest one. I wouldn't google (or "goggle") her suggestion on a bet, because that sure sounds like a scam to me.

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