Tim Painter's Reviews > Not Without My Daughter

Not Without My Daughter by Betty Mahmoody
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's review
Feb 24, 2008

really liked it
bookshelves: real-life, survival
Read in March, 2005

A very engrossing true story about a woman who marries an Iranian who then takes her to Iran and essentially holds her hostage there and forces her to live the life of women there. He tells her she can leave any time but can't take her daughter. She finally figures out a way to get out with her daughter.

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Comments (showing 1-10 of 10) (10 new)

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Beaman Yes, one of those "true" stories in which only the facts have been changed. And if Westerners did not demonize Muslims, how could they justify their wars of domination and exploitation? It's hard to kill people unless you think of them as less than human.

message 2: by Tim (new) - rated it 4 stars

Tim Painter I am sensing a lot of hatred and anger in your comment. I believe we could have a more meaningful dialogue if you responded with sourced information to back up your claims to the contrary. I am the kind of person who will read several different sources on a topic before I accept something as true and valid. In the case of the treatment of women in muslim countries such as Iran, Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan every source I have read backs up what was written in this book. Therefore, I conclude that what is in this book is true.

If you have sources and information to the contrary I would like to read them and would consider them with an open mind, but spewing forth hatred and vitriol in my direction will do nothing to change my mind.

Beaman One could write a pamphlet on the ways the story mischaracterizes Iranians. Suffice it to say 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. It's a carefully-packaged story, optimized to sell well in the American market by catering to people's fears and prejudices.

I applaud your desire to "read several different sources on a topic." That's the right attitude, in my opinion. But that would be a difficult undertaking in this case, because all you have access to is more stuff like "Not without my daughter." If you get a chance, travel to Iran and check things out for yourself. (Analogy: if all you know about Cuba is hearsay from the Cubans in Miami, your image of Cuba will be colored in a certain way.)

As for "vitriol" directed at you, or "hatred," I don't see it. I spoke about the book, not about you. I don't know you! Yes, I hate prejudice, ignorance, and bigotry, and would feel angry about it if I saw it (as anybody should). However, I didn't accuse you of such things. So, relax.

How you could so rapidly construct in your mind an image of me as an angry hater is something to think about. What do you suppose led you pigeon-hole me like this? My dislike for the book? At the moment, I'm more puzzled than angry.

Finally, with due respect, your proof for why "what is in this book is true" is simply a non-sequitur. Just take a minute to think about whether what you wrote down follows logically. I can think of four or five problems with your argument, but let me just mention one: The very fact that you think knowledge of Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan can help you judge the veracity of a book about Iran shows how off your reasoning is. It's like saying that reading a book about Mexico can help you judge the veracity of a story about the United States. It just doesn't make sense. (Now, don't take this as a personal insult; I'm making a point here.)

Take care.

message 4: by Tim (new) - rated it 4 stars

Tim Painter Thanks for the much more reasonable comments, they make for a more meaningful exchange of thoughts and ideas.

For me, I am looking at the region as a whole rather than just Iran, which is why I included Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia as examples. I just recently read the book 'The Bookseller of Kabul' which is a female reporters view from living with a family in Kabul both before and after the liberation from the Taliban (although I think she only lived there after and heard stories of the before). That book confirms the accounts given in 'Not Without My Daughter'.

One problem we are dealing with is that the incidents in the book were from 1984, over 20 years ago and not very long after the Iranian hostage crisis. A lot can change in 24 years and I am sure things have changed. I wish I could go to Iran and see what life is like there. I just don't feel like that is a very safe thing for Americans to be doing.

Another problem we have is that the leader of Iran is saying things like 'death to America' and 'Israel must be wiped off the map' while I am sure the majority of the people in Iran don't feel that way. Unfortunately with a closed society (meaning freedom of the press) you only get one side of the picture. Making it very difficult to get an accurate picture of the country.

So are you telling me that women in Iran don't wear burka's any longer and have the same rights as men? If I understand sharia law which I think is in place in Iran, women do not have the same rights as men, correct me if I am wrong.

Beaman The term "burka" is not used in Iran (there are other terms). By law, women are required to wear scarves. Women are not required to cover their faces. Same thing twenty years ago.

It would be wrong to say that men and women have equal legal rights in Iran. However, women's situation in Iran is far more liberal than that in either Saudi Arabia or Afghanistan. Same thing twenty years ago.

I don't approve of the rhetoric of Mr. Ahmadinejad. However, when WMD-rich countries like Israel and the U.S. repeatedly threaten to attack Iran, that has a more menacing ring to it than Ahmadinejad's acts of school-boy-style bad-mouthing: despite his insulting rhetoric, Ahmadinejad has explicitly said that Iran would not ever attack Israel or any other country. This is the half of the truth that is not reported in the U.S. media. He says the Israeli regime should disappear through a referendum. (That is not realistic, but it is not a call for war either.)

Denise It is interesting reading this dialog. Beaman, you seem to take offense at Tim's posting. How much do YOU know about Iran? Things have changed in the last 20 years, but unfortunately their president is trying to take them back 20 years.

We have to realize the book was one woman's personal account and of course not every citizen of Iran is like his family, but no matter what anyone says, it is a very different culture. I live it everyday so I should know.

Iran is a messed up country. They would nuke us in a heartbeat if they could. I'm referring mostly to the government and other "crazies", not the regular people.

message 7: by Tim (new) - rated it 4 stars

Tim Painter Thanks for your comments Denise. I imagine you have a fairly unique perspective on this subject.

Beaman As for my taking offense: Look above, I didn't say a word about Tim; my comments were simply about the book.

You say it's just one family's story. Well, the book isn't an isolated phenomenon. It's part of a countless horror stories in the media.

Take Norma Khoury's supposedly autobiographical "Honor Lost: Love and Death in Modern-Day Jordan," which purports to be an autobiographical, first-hand account. Turns out it's a complete fabrication; the author wasn't even in Jordan. (Google Norma Khoury.) Why would anybody fabricate (or, in the case of Not Without My Daughter, embellish) such horror stories? Because there's a market for it. These books wouldn't sell as well otherwise. They're carefully packaged to cater to the American people's fears and prejudices.

As for "They would nuke us in a heartbeat if they could," this comment is really over-the-top. I'm not going to bother to refute it.

You also ask, "How much do YOU know about Iran?" Well, I know Persian and read Iranian newspapers daily. I also read the books, memoirs, essays, speeches, and blogs of Iranian politicians. I also did a Ph.D. in Islamic history, and by profession do research on Middle Eastern history. I wouldn't say all this proves I'm right; I'm mentioning it only because you asked.

As for Iran being "messed up" and dominated by "crazies," whatever truth may lie in these statements, they would be even more true of the US. When was the last time Iran invaded & occupied another country without provocation? Over 400 years ago. What about the US? Just five years ago. And before that, there was the invasion of Panama, and the second Gulf War, and the invasion of Grenada, etc. The US invades at least one country per decade. Bill Clinton almost invaded Haiti, calling it off only at the last minute as the rulers of Haiti stepped down.

That explains why much of the world thinks of the US as essentially thuggish. I mean the government, not necessarily its people.

Denise Maybe saying taking offense of Tim's comments were not the right words. I probably should have said something more like "getting on a soap box".

My intent is not to start a fight or argue with anybody. I honestly wanted to know how much you knew, so thanks for your answer. However, I know Persian and read Iranian newspapers daily as well, but I obviously have a different opinion than you - and that's ok. I am aware that much of the world thinks of the US as thuggish and I can understand why, but those are separate issues. (This is supposed to be about a book.)

We have family that live there now so we are well aware of what is really going on. And as far as their newspapers go, you can't put much faith in that either. By the way, my husband escaped just like she did. I would think it was much easier for him than it was for her, but at least she could hide behind a chador. :-)

Beaman Fair enough!

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