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Not Without My Daughter

4.11  ·  Rating details ·  27,893 ratings  ·  1,491 reviews
In August 1984, Michigan housewife Betty Mahmoody accompanied her husband to his native Iran for a two-week vacation that turned into a permanent stay. To her horror, she found herself and her four-year-old daughter, Mahtob, virtual prisoners of a man rededicated to his Shiite Moslem faith, in a land where women are near-slaves and Americans despised. Their only hope for e ...more
Paperback, 528 pages
Published July 5th 2004 by Transworld Publishers Ltd (first published 1987)
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Celina Knippling My issue is that she is very derogatory when describing her in-laws and other Persians. I get that she had the in-laws from hell, but her book goes ou…moreMy issue is that she is very derogatory when describing her in-laws and other Persians. I get that she had the in-laws from hell, but her book goes out of its way not only to slam them for every little fault (like spilling sugar when getting some in their tea), but also describes them in pretty derogatory terms, saying they were dirty, that they left unhygenic messes all over the place, etc. If this is how they really are, maybe they have different standards in their family than she did. She sounded a bit anal-retentive in describing her efforts to maintain immaculate homes in the US at all times.

The biggest thing for me though is that she takes her in-laws foibles and applies them wholesale to EVERYONE in Iran. She writes off teachers as brainwashed drones. They probably saw a mom who was fighting to keep her kid uneducated and tied to another country's culture to her detriment. Think about it like this: if your friend was married to a woman from Iran who refused to send her child to elementary school and fought letting her child learn English or start to integrate into the US, you would probably think that woman had a screw loose or two. Also, when she extrapolates her in-laws behavior to everyone in the country, she treats people who helped her as simpletons and exceptions to the rule. Try reading other books written by people who don't have her biased/racist views, (Lipstick Jihad, Reading Lolita in Tehran), and it may open your eyes that most of the people in Iran are pretty decent folk who just have different political or religious views. Are there limitations there for women that restrict freedoms I and other women enjoy? Yes, but America also restricts behaviors or freedoms they would find just as barbaric.

Her husband was an abusive jerk, but so are a lot of white American husbands, unfortunately. The focus of the book should have been on "I married an abusive man whose family supported his behavior, but thankfully escaped to make a better life for myself and my daughter." The shame is that what her book REALLY says (intentionally or not) is "I married a man who belongs to a nation of abusers and kidnappers with disgusting unhygenic habits who hate freedom for women but I got out and am letting you all know about this evil country."

That's why people (like me) call it a racist book.(less)
Renée If I would have been kidnapped by my husband to another country and pretty much his whole family (which is huge) would let it happen and continue, I w…moreIf I would have been kidnapped by my husband to another country and pretty much his whole family (which is huge) would let it happen and continue, I would probably hate them too and it would be a very small step to extrapolate this hate to the whole nation.


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May 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Fierce, Frightening, and Real

This was a 500+ book that I finished within the span of two days..

This autobiography will make your soul weep. It is a MUST-READ.

This story completely took my breath away. There aren't enough words to describe the suffering and heartache of the human condition in Not Without My Daughter.

For those of you who aren't familiar with the story, I'll provide a very brief overview. Betty Mahmoody agrees to visit Iran with her husband, Moody, and daughter, Mahtob, despite
May 11, 2008 rated it did not like it
The untruths begin with the cover of the book, which features the image of a woman who is dressed in a manner which is decidedly not Iranian. So, even before you have read a single word, you have been given an image that is not authentic.

The book is carefully packaged to cater to the American people's fears and prejudices. Also, the book isn't an isolated phenomenon. It's a product of a veritable cottage industry of horror stories and black-and-white portrayals of Muslim societies (Persepolis, R
Apr 05, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I have read this book twice and it is my all-time favorite book. I first watched the movie - one of those you catch by chance on a rainy day. I thought it was good. Then one day I saw the book and could not put it down! I could not believe some of the things I was reading. I was in shock! This was probably around 1999/2000.

The second time I read the book, probably around 2003/2004,I was reading it as an Iranian man's wife. I still loved the book and this time I knew a whole lot more about the cu
Oct 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A brilliant expose of the horrors of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Betty Mahmoudy recounts her experiences as a captive , with her daughter Mahtob, of her increasingly violent husband who keeps her a prisoner to stop her leaving the Islamic Republic.
She is horrified by the unhygienic conditions of Iran and the total misogynistic lack of rights of women, and the violent anti-American propaganda fed to the population She refuses offers to get out of this vile country unless she can take her daught
Nov 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir
A moving and inspiring story of of one woman’s courage and determination to get her and her daughter to safety and escape from an abusive and tyrannical Iranian husband and father.

When Dr Moody takes his wife and five year old daughter Mahtob to Iran ostensibly on a two week vacation and then takes their passports and forces them to stay as he decides they will not return to America ever. This is the terrifying account of their ordeal and escape to safety.

I read this book when it was first re
I can't believe people are still reading this book! I read it years ago when it first came out and had a difficult time putting it down. Not because it is great literature, or because it is an intelligent, thought-provoking book about a culture few Americans take the time to learn about, but because William Hoffer is capable of writing a light, fast-paced, adventurous story. I felt Betty Mahmoody acted very irresponsibly. She endangered her child by staying with a mentally unstable man, not to m ...more
Jun 21, 2010 rated it it was ok
You can argue about how negative and stereotyping this book is, how it helped to reinforce generalized preconceptions about the Iranians, how it didn’t help to provide a better and more accurate picture of the Iranian society to the an already-hostile American public, how it was used by a sector of the American public and media who would happily jump on anything like this, how it was used by both sides as a political propaganda tool, etc. I read this book not long after I left Iran. I don’t reme ...more
I’d like to first point out that I was born in Iran and spent the first six years of my life there. We visited frequently until shortly after all the troubles started. I’ve never been back and I can’t possibly imagine doing so. I’d rather keep the sweet memories that I had and not tarnish them with negative ones that I so often hear about.

When the movie, “Not Without My Daughter” came out back in 1991, I remember hearing that many of my fellow countrymen boycotted it. They resented the fact tha
Apr 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My parents' divorce wasn’t the most amicable one out there, although you wouldn’t know it because they’re pretty good friends now. At the time, my dad was living and working in Mexico as a surgeon, which meant that every other weekend found my brother and I listlessly cooped up in my dad’s clinic in Zaragoza, a very poor community on the outskirts of Juarez. People made their homes out of cinder blocks, durable cardboard, and any other supplies they could find. It was like night and day compared ...more
The undertone of racism permeated this book. It was very hard to get through because of this. While at times I did feel for the situation the author was in, it was hard to sympathize with her on other occasions because she just seemed so judgmental. I understand she was angry and frustrated and had been through a lot; it probably would have been a better book had she given it some space for perspective. The story is no doubt interesting, but it could have been written better.
Feb 03, 2013 rated it did not like it
Shelves: iran, school, nonfiction
If you have picked this book up in hopes that it will give you insight about Iran, put it right back down. Not Without My Daughter is one woman's experience that has been treated like an ethnography of Iranian and Persian culture, and it should never be treated as such. Betty Mahmoody's account of her time in Iran is not only full of gross factual inaccuracies but also blatant racism and xenophobia that made the reading experience hard to stomach.

To put it in perspective, Mahmoody co-wrote the
A'ishah Al-Tamimi
Feb 15, 2012 rated it did not like it
im just going to rehash what other people have said but it is true. firstly the cover is of a arab woman not persian/iranian. iranian women wear long headscarves called iranian chadors (the afghan version is different) which shows all of their face. they do not veil like saudi yemeni and gulf women do. but to americans, the picture of a women in a headscarve is just not "frightening" enough to sell to its stupid sheep audience, so they use the veil cause it looks exotic and foriegn.
secondly she
Sep 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: kindle

Holy moly this was intense. I couldn't put it down at all despite knowing the outcome. Betty Mahmoody planned to go to Iran with her family for 2 weeks but her daughter and her get kidnapped by her husband and his family. In Iran they are his property and he can do whatever he wants to them (beat, rape, keep them locked up, etc.)

This book was absolutely brutal and it horrified me to know this kind of stuff still happens today. While I was reading it I couldn't help but thinking how lucky I a
Having seen the movie, I thought I knew what to expect here, but was I ever wrong! This frightening story of being held captive in a hostile country by a loving husband....turned monster and much worse that the movie in many respects...the unsanitary living conditions, holes in the floor for toilets, and sexual abuse by taxi drivers to name a few, but the worst, by far, is that brutality is the "accepted" treatment of women and children.....shocking and despicable.

I have no idea if th

May 12, 2016 rated it really liked it
Wow, that was scary. I do sympathize with her. She lived a total nightmare. This book should be on the mandatory reading list of anyone thinking of going to the Middle East.
I read and reread Not Without My Daughter as a teen, growing more horrified and even more thankful to have been born in a nation where I had clean food and where, even as a child, I was free to go about when, where, and how I pleased.

I’ll begin by stating for the record that watching the movie is insufficient for getting a clear picture of what life was like for Betty Mahmoody and her child during their 18-month imprisonment in Iran. Sally Fields’s and Alfred Molina’s brilliant portrayals notw
Sandy Batesel
Jan 20, 2012 rated it did not like it
For me this whole book rang untrue. I know I'm probably going to get a huge backlash for saying that but I just could not empathize with the author. There is no doubt that women are treated differently in Muslim countries and with them I do empathize. However, Ms. Mahmoody had misgivings about taking her daughter to visit Iran before she went ... misgivings to the point that she made an appointment with an attorney. Yet she took her daughter and went anyway. She handed over her passport to her h ...more
"It is bad enough, I find even worse, if personal destiny is used to defame a whole country." ...more
Sep 07, 2007 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I was a little put off by the way the author categorized everything Iranian as "bad" and everything American as "good." ...more
Kelly H. (Maybedog)
I'd like to give this book 2.5 stars but alas... I found the book interesting but it was sensationalistic and extremely culturally biased. The premise is horrific and I can completely understand her hatred and fear. However, nothing is black and white and just because the way women are treated is abominable doesn't mean that everything in the culture is bad and everything the people do is wrong and horrible.

The one scene that sticks out in my mind is that she spends hours every day picking tiny
Jun 01, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Fans of quality memoirs, those wanting to know more about international child abduction
Not Without My Daughter is an astounding memoir that underscores just how little power women have in Iran. It's hard to believe Betty Mahmoody and her daughter survived their ordeal, but with Mahmoody's fierce persistence, they did. It was a harrowing escape, and I was captivated during this part especially. A movie version starring Sally Field and Alfred Molina was in theaters in January 1991 and is fantastic but pales in comparison to its thrilling, emotional source material.

On a final note:
Alicia Krauchuk Fenton
Mar 04, 2009 rated it really liked it
I remember meeting Betty and her daughter, Mahtob, when I was back in (I want to say High School)...does anyone else remember that meeting (my HS goodreaders?)
Anyhow...I think this was my first introduction to the middle east and what it was like to be a woman in their culture. I enjoyed the book, I was grateful for her courage, and I'm wondering where they are today.
I'll Google to find out. :-)
I've read this maybe 20 years ago, when I was a teenager. Based on my gut, I'd give it 4 stars. Because to this day I remember the book, and I remember how terrified I felt reading it. It left an impression. It's had an impact.

However, I've seen issues raised concerning racism etc. which makes me not want to re-read it, and I decided to not give it a rating.
Aug 04, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
Such a harrowing story! After years of marriage and a beautiful child together, Betty agrees to travel with her husband to Iran to visit his family. There he becomes a completely different person, and refuses to let her and their daughter leave. At one point she is literally held prisoner by her husband, and her journey out of Iran with her daughter actually turned her hair gray.

This isn't completely a catalog of how awful Iran is, though. She gives its beauties their due, and also details meet
Feb 25, 2011 rated it it was ok
People are divided in opinion about the veracity of the story. As for me, it does not really matter. The story is believable and could be true. The negatives pointed out could be true - Not for a whole country, only individual elements here and there. Betty herself has acknowledged in the book that 'you cannot categorize a person by nationality'(pg 415). She couldn't even have survived and escaped if all the Iran countrymen were bad. So, the rebukes on her supposed Iran bashing are actually inva ...more
Jenni Boyd
May 16, 2016 rated it really liked it
I had no idea this book was such a controversial read until reading some of the reviews, some believe the story has racist undertones, and then there are some who say the story is nothing but a fabrication of a vengeful wife. These are my thoughts of what I felt when I read this book.

The story begins with Betty’s sense of panic as she sits in a plane thousands of feet above sea level, suddenly feeling she’d made a terrible mistake. Wondering why she'd agreed to come to Iran, when her own country
"Taraf is the Iranian conversational custom of making polite but vacant offers.”

Not Without My Daughter by Betty Mahmoody

This was a really harrowing read. Reading it, I could not get over Betty's courage and how frightened and alone she must have felt. It's a page turner and is unputdownable.

I also liked very much how Betty detailed the kindness of the people involved in helping her. The actual escape itself is nail biting. I also saw this movie but did not care for it. The book is way more po
Mar 25, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: biography, nonfiction
Reading this account was like watching a Lifetime Television for Women movie. (Sally Field, wasn't it?) The story is told exclusively from Betty Mahmoody's perspective and seems to skew heavily towards her particular biases. On several occasions I felt myself rolling my eyes and wishing someone would help Betty snap out of it because her storytelling frequently devolves into whininess. At the same time, it would be difficult to overestimate the fear, whether rational and justified or not, that a ...more
Nov 19, 2007 rated it really liked it
I know there was cheesy movie made about this book, but the real story is absolutely incredible. It was facinating to learn about the way of life in Iran, and especially about how women are treated. I was amazed by this woman's perseverence and bravery. You'll be inspired! ...more
Jan 20, 2021 rated it really liked it
This one was such a hyped book in Germany back in time! Pretty much all females I knew had read this novel and were shocked! 🤭

A shockingly successful novel with a bit of exaggeration and full of revenge against the ex-husband and his family.
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The Movie 4 26 Feb 27, 2015 10:50AM  
What's the Name o...: SOLVED. Adult biography - about woman imprisioned in islamic country by her husband 4 37 Dec 09, 2014 05:02PM  
Issues 4 96 Jul 17, 2013 10:20AM  
About the story 5 78 Jul 16, 2013 05:02AM  

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Betty Mahmoody (born June 9, 1945) is an American author and public speaker best known for her book, Not Without My Daughter, which was subsequently made into a film of the same name. She is the President and co-founder of One World: For Children, an organization that promotes understanding between cultures and strives to offer security and protection to children of bi-cultural marriages.

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