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

4.08  ·  Rating details ·  3,449 ratings  ·  405 reviews
As the western world’s most wanted terrorist, Osama bin Laden has fought to keep his personal life a mystery – loyalty and fear keeping those who know him from speaking out – until now.

For the first time, two of Osama’s closest family members, his first wife Najwa and their fourth son Omar, go behind the headlines to reveal the truth about the character and life of a man f
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published October 27th 2009 by St. Martin's Press
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Laurie Stoll
Dec 13, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Another exceptional book that I've added to my short list of "favorites".

Due to the sensitive nature of the topic of this book I don't think this factual story could have been told any more perfect. I have so much admiration for Najwa and Omar, especially Omar! After reading Omar's story I wish I could wrap my arms around him and give him a hug. I'd tell him how proud I am of the courage it took to tell his story and I would tell him that the world does NOT hate him or his family, just the actio
I didn't think that I would like this book, but I did. It wasn't what I thought it would be. I learned a lot about women and how they feel without freedom living in the Middle East. I also found out more about Osama Bin Laden. **stop here for spoilers*** I learned that he was a devout follower of Islam. He did many of the things he did because of his religion. He changed part way through his life and became bitter and that is when he spoke out against the rulers of Sadi Arabia and he lost his ci ...more
Jan 12, 2010 rated it it was ok
Written by Osama bin Laden's first wife and one of his sons with the help of Jean Sasson, this is an interesting peak into Osama bin Laden's family/personal life. I found it to be an easy read, but, to be honest, I'm a little bit wary of how reliable the narratives are. I've read a couple of Sasson's other books and they always seem very sensationalized. Sasson's making money by almost exploiting women's personal stories. Another criticism is that Sasson doesn't offer much cultural context. Occa ...more
Sabrina Rutter
Jan 25, 2010 rated it really liked it
Although I have read several books about women living under the oppression of the taliban I must admit I was still very confused believing the mujahideen, taliban, and al-qaeda to be different factions of the same group. After reading Growing Up bin Laden I now realize how ignorant I was about each of these different groups.
The mujahideen were the Afghani warriors who fought the Russians when they tried to take over Afghanistan. This battle was Osama's first taste of the ways of war.
The taliban
Apr 26, 2010 rated it really liked it
The memoirs of Najwa bin Laden, Osama bin Laden's first wife, and Omar bin Laden, Osama's fourth son, make for a fascinating read, especially to someone who is not very familiar with ways of life in the Middle East.

At first, I was put off by Najwa's account of her early life. Her glasses didn't just seem rose-colored; they seemed as if they must have had their own built-in mister of fairy dust. Almost everything in her life up until the point that she had to move to Afghanistan, seemed to be fr
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 fath
Told in alternating chapters by Osama bin Laden’s first wife, Najwa, and his 4th son, Omar, this well written book gives the reader an unprecedented inside view of life in the family of Osama bin Laden.

Because bin Laden required his wives to live in complete isolation from the world, Najwa’s story revolves around her early marriage to bin Laden and home life with her children. The most powerful account is given by Omar, who was slated to become bin Laden’s second in command. Through their eyes w
Oct 02, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: women-culture
like always, Jean Sasson always writes on interesting topics and stories. the best of all the stories are real.
i enjoyed reading the book. it is unbelievable how osama left all his wealth for trouble. that's crazy. why would a man with his mentality get married or even have a family if he was so dedicated. i feel bad for his kids and i feel bad for his first wife najwa as mentioned in the book that she doesn't know what happened to 2 of her daughters and some of her sons. the kids suffered becau
Nov 25, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A fascinating inside view from a son of Bin Laden..I especially enjoyed the section on how the Taliban insulted Osama bin Laden.Osama was very strange in many ways e.g. He completely avoided using electricity or modern electric appliances as he thought it was a western invention.He used to reprimand his sons on laughing and actually used to tell them how many teeth they used to show when they laughed and not do it again.I was also suprised to know he could speak perfect English and Pushto.
Jul 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This book literally changed my life. I began reading this book thinking of Omar Bin Laden as the enemy but quickly into it, I felt a compassion I never imagined. Omar and I began to communicate and after moving to the Middle East, I went to tea with him. He is now one of the best friends I have ever had. I learned never to judge someone by their name or where they are from or what faith they have. I am a better person today for having met him and it all began with this book.
Jul 16, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: biographies
It’s really heartbreaking. Osama’s children suffered so much even before the world started hunting their father. But it is also a beautiful story of a boy deciding to stand for peace in the face of constant hate and violence.
This book is very informative. I knew nothing about Osama Bin Laden’s family, so this was quite interesting.
As with any biography, each person’s experience is uniquely their own. The reactions to and interpretations of situations are also uniquely their own. That said I
Quirky Omega
Jun 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
The pictures and the early life stories paint such an ordinary picture of one of the most notorious men of 21st century.
Stephen Clynes
Sep 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing
The subtitle of this book reads "Osama's Wife and Son Take Us Inside Their Secret World" and this is exactly what this book does. Najwa was just 15 when she married Osama bin Laden who was 17 at the time. This book was written in 2009 and published as a 1057KB eBook in 2010.

Growing Up bin Laden was written as it was told to Jean Sasson by Najwa bin Laden, who is Osama's cousin and 1st wife, plus Omar bin Laden, their 4th born son. Each chapter is written in the first person with a seperate chapt
Danielle Stoll
May 17, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

After reading Growing Up bin Laden I found myself hating Ossama bin Laden more while feeling proud of his fourth son, Omar. As told by Omar, Muslims are brainwashed to believe Westerners, especially Americans, hate Muslims and are out to destroy them all. Omar was able to turn away from his father's Jihad based on his humanism and internal instincts that told him violence is not the answer. Omar did not have the luxury of the internet, television, books, or any other way to hear viewpoin
Trupti Dorge
Oct 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: i-own, non-fiction
Having read and loved most of Jean Sasson’s books, I’m always happy when I discover she’s written a new book. This book was more interesting to me because it was written on Osama Bin Laden, the elusive ‘self-proclaimed’ jihadi. Although I have intense hate for him, there is a part of me that wants to know why and how does a man become the Osama. How does a guy have so much control over so many people that they were willing to die for him? Also, What kind of family life did he have? All this and ...more
Mark Sequeira
Through the looking glass, an insider's account of BinLaden and his personal story/family. Granted coming from his wife and fourth son, it is more about his family/personal life versus his planning/motivation/organization of Al-Qaeda but there are already plenty of those books out there.

The author/translator, Jean Sassoon (of Princess fame) explains in the final comments, "I discovered that no books written about BinLaden or his family had the cooperation of a single BinLaden family member. Car
Apr 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I wasn't sure starting this book as to how I would feel reading it, much as Jean Sasson said she felt about writing it. Yet, now that I am finished, I am sad. I am sad for Najwa and Omar, sad for the rest of Osama's wives and children. I cannot imagine being raised in that environment. As a western woman, I find myself with mixed feelings for Najwa (admiration and anger). I can never fully understand the life and belief behind the decisions they made. I so admire Omar for what he has done. I adm ...more
Michelle Winters
Nov 21, 2009 rated it it was amazing
AMAZING! This book educates readers on who the BinLaden family was/is through Osamma's first wife and her first son. It tells the story from their perspective. Her's as a traditional Saudi wife who loved her husband though due to warnings did manage to leave him and return to syria with a coiuple of her youngest children just before the Trade Center bombings. His, as the first son who was born different; grew up trying to achieve peace at a personal and family level; and who ultimately made the ...more
Dec 29, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I thought that Omar and Najwa's perspectives were fascinating. It was especially interesting to read about the times in which Osama bin Laden barely escaped being assassinated, like in Khartoum and after the embassy bombings. The personal details were amazing. I was finishing the book around the time that news about the bin Laden family came out. Iman escaped to the Saudi Embassy in Iran. I will definitely be keeping up with this story. Other good books about Osama bin Laden or terrorism in gene ...more
Jan 03, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I was surprised at how this book sucked me in. I think it really added an interesting layer that the story is told from two perspectives - both bin Laden's first wife and his fourth son. As opposed to bin Laden himself, both of them came across as sympathetic and human. I felt like by reading this book I gained a greater understanding of Muslim culture in general and definitely of bin Ladin's history. It's quite depressing to contemplate the role of women in a culture like this one, but overall ...more
An extremely interesting book that gives you a look inside the life of Osama bin Liden through the eyes of his first wife and forth son. I was really drawn into this book and intrigued to see how life was for Osama's family before 9/11 and to hear their thoughts on Osama and his activities. As with all biography's not all questions are answered but you do get to see a very different view point into the life of a very secretive man and how his actions affected those around him. ...more
Dec 20, 2009 rated it it was amazing
i was amazed at the background of Ossama Binladin ( the correct way of spelling his name), his 4 wives and the transformation form a young man to the terrorist he has become. well written from both the perspectives of his first wife, as well as his 4th son of his first wife.

also gave me a better geographical understanding of that region of the world, and the customs of Islamic nations and people.
Mar 04, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely astounding insight into the early life of Osama bin Laden and at least a glimpse of how this man built his empire of violence. According to the author, this is the first book written on bin Laden with any contribution by bin Laden family members, much less from his immediate family.

A very easy, intriguing read. It is fair and reasonable, providing multiple sides of Osama bin Laden's character, as a husband, father, and terrorist.
Jun 08, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: afghanistan, africa
Wow this book was good. Jean Sasson states at the end that she aims to educate minds of the young to create understanding about ethnic and religious differences, and that's what this book did for me. It especially helps a person understand the basic history of Al Qaeda and their motivations. Osama is given no excuses. He kept his children at an arms length to his own demise, which is why this book being told by his critical son is totally believable. ...more
Renay Appleby
Aug 15, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Renay's review of:
"Growing up bin Laden: Osama's Wife and Son take us inside their secret world"
This was a look at Osama bin Laden's life and how he became the radical leader of Al Quaeda. The story was told by Najwa bin Laden, Osama bin Laden's first wife and their fourth son, Omar bin Laden. It was a timeline of events that led up to Omar's desire for a world without war. These events caused him and his mother to leave Osama's world of jihad. This was a very interesting biography.
Christine Donofrio
Nov 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
It was a overall good book!
Feb 24, 2010 rated it really liked it
Growing Up bin Laden, by Najwa bin Laden, Omar bin Laden, and Jean Sasson

When I started reading this book, I thought I would be most interested in Najwa's perspective, but the more I read, the more I learned from her son, Omar. Najwa's story is limited in that she lived her entire life with her husband in purdah, or isolation, and thus wasn't privy to any details of what was happening. Her role was to be a happy, submissive, sweet, unquestioning wife and she fulfilled that perfectly. I was more
Dec 13, 2009 rated it really liked it
This book was interesting. I did not expect that it would be. I learned things I didn't know about Arab culture--hearing from Osama's first wife and the fourth son of his first wife gave two distinct points of view into an Arab household. More to the point, perhaps, we see into Osama bin Laden's household. As I was reading, my early comments may have reflected my perplexity that a son would discuss internal family affairs so publicly. The more I read, however, the more I understood that Osama bi ...more
Dec 27, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I must first of all show appreciation to Omar and Najwa bin Laden who really gave us a much longed for insight into the lives of the bin Ladens. Osama was once a much loved and praised hero in the eyes of people that are now disgusted and angered by the actions of his later life.

From two points of view, his wife and his son, Osama's life is told in a very down to earth, honest manner that I found extremely interesting. Some things I learnt from the book that I had never heard of before made me
Janice Raquela
Jul 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing
So I just finished reading Growing Up Bin Laden: Osama's Wife and Son Take Us Inside Their Secret World by Jean Sasson.
A true story that few ever believed would come to light, Growing Up bin Laden uncovers startling revelations and hidden secrets carefully guarded by the most wanted terrorist in our lifetime, Osama bin Laden. These secrets are revealed by the only people who could know such private details, his wife and son.
I have so much admiration for Najwa and Omar, especially Omar! After rea
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Jean Sasson was born in a small town in Alabama. An avid reader from an early age, she had read all the books in her school library by the time she was 15 years old. She also began her book collection at age 15. When given the chance to travel, Sasson accepted a position at the King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Centre in Riyadh, and lived in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for 12 years. She ...more

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98 likes · 16 comments
“When we look back, it becomes clear that the acts and accomplishments of human beings are the signatures of history. Human signatures have created an enormous chasm between the joyeous light of the age of the Renaissance to the dark shadow of September 11, 2001. Those of us living on that fateful day experienced the lower depths of mankind. As an author, avid reader, world traveler, and person of enormous curiosity, my life experiences have taught me that discord often erupts from a lack of knowledge and education. To discourage future dark moments, I believe we must nourish the minds of our young with learning that creates understanding between ethnic and religious groups. Perhaps understanding will lead to a marvelous day when we take a last fleeting look at violence so harmful to so many. I sincerely believe that nothing will further the cause of peace more than the education of our young. I would like for readers to know that a percentage of the profits from the sale of this book will be devoted to the cause of education.

May all roads lead to peace.”
“Saudi Arabia, and began having children, Osama bin Laden completed his high school education at the Al-Thager” 2 likes
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