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Leap of Faith: Memoirs of an Unexpected Life

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3.81  ·  Rating details ·  9,231 ratings  ·  787 reviews
Leap of Faith is the dramatic and inspiring story of an American woman's remarkable journey into the heart of a man and his nation.Born into a distinguished Arab-American family and raised amid privilege, Lisa Halaby joined the first freshman class at Princeton to accept women, graduating in 1974 with a degree in architecture and urban planning. Two years later, while visi ...more
Paperback, 496 pages
Published March 9th 2005 by Miramax Books (first published 2003)
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Average rating 3.81  · 
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W
Nov 25, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography
King Hussein of Jordan married four times.After the death of his third wife in an air crash,his fourth wife was the former Lisa Hallaby,an American woman with an Arab father.

She changed her name and her religion and became Queen Noor of Jordan.

This is a highly readable account of her years with King Hussein,palace intrigues, politics and war in the turbulent Middle East.

King Hussein travelled the world frequently,in his quest for Middle East peace.She describes her encounters with plenty of worl
...more
Joanne
Sep 09, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Psychologists assert that conflict resolution involves "perspective taking", that is, seeing the word through another's eyes. I was fascinated to read Queen Noor Al Hussein's (whose name was given to her by her husband King Hussein of Jordan when they married - it means "light of Hussein") account of her 20 year marriage, which spanned two decades of turmoil in the Middle East. Queen Noor was born and raised in the United States as Lisa Halaby. Her heritage is both Arab and European. Her vantage ...more
Jane
Oct 14, 2009 rated it really liked it
Reading this book forced me to reconsider my opinion of the Camp David accords and the participants there. I have come to think of Carter, Begin, and Sadat as heroes (Sadat going on to sacrifice his life for his decision) and to consider the Jordanian position made me sadly aware of how superficially I understand the complexities of the whole mideast situation. She presents a strong argument for a balanced approach in the mideast and shows that the US often favors Israel unfairly over Arab state ...more
April
Jan 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I had not realized to what extent these memoirs would actually provide a historical, and yes, to some degree, subjective prospective of the crisis in the Middle East. As someone already with an interest in Arab culture, I enjoyed it. (I live in an area possessing the largest Arab population outside of the Middle East, and went to school with many young people of this background.)

I was amused by some of the negative reviews. Noor did not refuse to acknowledge Israel's right to exist, and in fact,
...more
Revel
Apr 01, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoir
I remember when King Hussein passed away and being mesmerized by his American wife. This is her story and it's an amazing one. The book is really a tribute to her husband, a love song in a sense. I loved learning not only about her journey as Queen Noor and marriage to the King of Jordan, but the historical events that they were so involved in. It's always an eye opening experience to hear another perspective (such as the Gulf War) than what we hear on the news here in the States. I also thought ...more
Jane
I was looking forward to reading this book because I LOVE the country of Jordan. I was so disappointed in the book! Her Majesty seemed embarassed by the fact that a "child of the 1960" became a "Queen,"-- which philosophically she would be opposed to since"Queens" are old-fashioned --and by their very nature not "democrats" (small d).
She also spent more time than she should have being critical of the USA (or it's policies.) She should have spent more time building up her adopted home-land. She
...more
Xanthe
I picked this book up mostly because my sister is currently living in Amman, Jordan while she spends a semester abroad as part of her college studies. Before she had announced her intentions of leaving for the Middle East, my knowledge of Jordan was limited to what I had heard on the news and picked up while trying to make sense of what was going on in the world. Jordan hardly figured largely in the headlines dominated by Iraq, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Iran – any other country besides Jordan, it se ...more
Kela
Nov 09, 2013 rated it did not like it
Before reading this book I did not know much about Queen Noor other than she was an American who became royalty. After reading this book, I can say I still do not know much about Queen Noor although I learned a great deal about her husband King Hussein, the Middle East, and her anti-American views. Early on I got the feeling she wrote this book to preserve her husband's legacy. I've never seen the words "my husband" used so many times in one book. At one point she managed to use the phrase three ...more
Suzanne
“I distinctly recall my first impressions of Jordan. I had been en route to the United States from Iran, where I was working for a British urban planning firm. From the window of my aircraft, I had found myself spellbound by the serene of desert landscape washed golden by the retreating sun at dusk. I was overwhelmed by an extraordinary sensation of belonging, an almost mystical sense of peace.”

I decided to read Queen Noor’s autobiography for my 52 Books Around the World Challenge, in the hopes
...more
Erica
I’ve had this in my Hoopla To-Read list since I got my Hoopla account. It’s Woman’s History Month so this seemed like a good time to read it.
I listened to it for 6.5 hours and then stopped because I wasn't getting much from this tale of a woman who loved a king.

She comes across as humble, naïve early on, not very worldly or wise from the outset. It all sounds like something a privileged white woman with a proper upbringing would tell, a bit disingenuous, overly polite, terribly respectable, not
...more
Sandy
Apr 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing
While Leap of Faith is primarily the author Queen Noor’s memoir and a tribute to her late husband King Hussein of Jordan, what I like most about this book is the author's explanations about the history of conflicts in the "Middle East" region. I usually consider the Israel - Palestine conflict "too daunting" to think about. Leap of Faith wraps history and political science lessons about a complex and tragic regional situation within a story of royal life and intrigue, keeping me turning the page ...more
John-Manuel Andriote
Queen Noor is one of the most intriguing figures in modern history. An American beauty--like Grace Kelly, the actress who became Princess Grace of Monaco (one of the most glamorous figures of the 20th century)--she was an intelligent young American woman who was charmed by a royal man from an exotic place. She was a journalist before marrying King Hussein of Jordan, which shows in her memoir. She is intelligent, insightful, and a good writer, too. I attended her talk at the National Press Club, ...more
Chris
Apr 22, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was reading this book while traveling to Jordan. Visiting most of the touristic highlights and also some places far off the beaten tourist track, even visited a school for Syrian refuges.
This book helped me a lot in a better understanding of the country and its whereabouts. The explanation of the political problems, which Queen Noor does very carefully and with a lot of empathy for both sides of the coin, helped me in a better understanding of the Arab an Palestinian point of view. I won't as
...more
Cheryl
Oct 19, 2012 rated it really liked it
I wanted to read this true story because Queen Noor seemed fascinating: The youngest queen at the time of her marriage, and an American woman and architecture graduate of Princeton, married to the monarch King of Jordan.

The book is written in autobiography form, with immense information about the Middle East and the political disputes and agreements between the countries of that region, as well as with the United States. In fact, Queen Noor refers to her journal a lot and as a result, it seems
...more
Julie
Mar 18, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: recorded-book, memoir
I've always been curious about Queen Noor, the former Lisa Halaby, the American woman who became Queen of Jordan. I wondered how she gave up the freedoms she had as a woman in the US, in order to be a Muslim royal. Alas, this memoir gives only the most superficial of answers to that -- and other -- questions about her life. Granted, she does explain that her father was of Middle Eastern descent and that piqued her interest in her Middle Eastern roots; however, in this memoir she fails to beyond ...more
Liz
Dec 29, 2007 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Those Who Need to Learn about the Middle East
I thought that this book would be wholly different than what it turned out to be. The fact that it still earned four stars from me means that it not only changed my expectations, but also met them as well.

I expected to hear about Queen Noor's life. I expected to hear about what she did specifically as the "first lady" of Jordan. I expected to hear personal experiences and reactions to her experiences "in office."

I got some of that, but what I got was her take on experiences specifically about t
...more
Ellen Librarian
Aug 19, 2009 rated it liked it
It's hard to think of anyone who has led a more interesting life than Queen Noor of Jordan. Born into a well-connected Arab-American family in the US, she met and married King Hussein of Jordan as a young woman, converted to Islam and committed herself to helping her husband promote peace and moderatism in the Middle East.

Although the book serves as more of a love letter to the now-deceased Hussein than as an exploration of her own life as an American who has not only adopted a foreign country
...more
Charlotte
Aug 11, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: memoir
Queen Noor's memoirs offer a unique insight into the royal family of Jordan. An American with Lebanese roots marries the King of Jordan and becomes a head of state. She deals with fame, security threats, wars, politics and speeches all the while raising a family and supporting her husband.

I was frustrated at times with the distance between reader and author. I felt Queen Noor's desire for privacy and understood why this memoir was not more personal. But I also had the suspicion that I was readin
...more
Ashley
Jun 27, 2008 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: those who have a political opinion
This was a good book. It was very biased, but I can understand that. Queen Noor completely adopted the country of Jordan, and that is why she took the point of view of the Palestinians. I loved the way she adopted Jordan, and I loved the way she defended the country and the king--her husband--throughout the entire book. She got on her soap box a lot through the book, but it wasn't too bad. The one problem I had with this book is that Queen Noor never really talked about herself. She talked exten ...more
Heidi Miller
Feb 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This must have been one of the last books my mother read before her death in 2005, and it’s sat on my shelf ever since. I knew she was deeply affected by Queen Noor’s account, but I only now finally opened—and devoured—it.

Having lived through the history she recounts, I found myself questioning the version of events I had accepted. I have become skeptical of news reports on all sides of current issues. Why not old events as well?

Her account, while perhaps biased by her love for King Hussein and
...more
Joy H.
I am listening to the audio version of this book, _Leap of Faith_. It's being narrated by Suzanne Toren whose delivery I cannot stand. Queen Noor should have recorded the book herself. Queen Noor speaks in the introduction and has a beautiful voice and delivery. She sounds gentle and serene. To me, Toren sounds haughty, pompous, and pretentious. Queen Noor, on the other hand sounds very appealing and likable.

I didn't finish listening to this audio because I lost interest. It dealt with a lot of
...more
Diann
Jun 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audio, own
A friend recommended this to me and I began to read it with a bit of reluctance, figuring it was another "American girl meets a King and becomes a Queen."

It was not like that at all!

A beautiful love story, written with honesty and much integrity. In addition to a memoir of their relationship, she explained much of what was happening politically in the region. It was very well written and offered me a new perspective on the country of Jordan.

A great read!
...more
Denise
Nov 10, 2012 rated it really liked it
The Arab perspective on the mideast conflicts from the time Lisa Najeeb Halaby married King Hussein of Jordan becoming Queen Noor. She was American born, and was introduced to the King by her father when she was 26 years old. I've since done some reading about the history and geography of the area to more fully understand the story she tells. I would recommend this book! ...more
Alice
Mar 06, 2011 rated it really liked it
This book is about the former queen of Jordan, Queen Noor, and her life. I thought the book was very interesting. I learned a lot about the history of the Middle East, relations among Arab countries and Israel, and have a better understanding of why there is so much conflict in the area.
Laura
Aug 17, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: high school and up
Shelves: 2008
Loved this book!!! It is one of the few non-fiction books that kept me up at night reading. Queen Noor is one of my new heroines! I was so interested in reading about her perspective of the Middle East.
Amelie Van Den Boom
Sep 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fictie
Incredible story and very interesting to read about Jordan over the past 40 years after visiting last year. A personal story, about family, love and home, but also a political memoir of a turbulent time in a very special country.
Kathy
Oct 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I listened to the audio version of this book. I loved it. I found the politics from the Jordanian perspective to be very interesting.
Marsmannix
Nov 13, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir, politics
One of the most famous and genuine political marriages of the 20th century. Lovingly told, honest in perspective. We won't see another like Queen Noor in a long time. ...more
Abigail
Mar 09, 2013 rated it really liked it
Fascinating perspective on the Middle East, and on the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.
Petra
Feb 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing
One of my all time favorite books. I couldn't stop reading it and have read it two more times since the very first time I read it. FANTASTIC. ...more
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Queen Noor of Jordan is the last wife and widow of King Hussein of Jordan. She was queen consort of Jordan during her marriage (1978–1999) and has been queen dowager of Jordan since her husband's death in 1999.

American by birth, of Syrian, British and Swedish descent, she acquired Jordanian citizenship and renounced her American citizenship at the time of her marriage. She is the current president
...more

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