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Ester's Child Hardcover – September 1, 2001

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Windsor-Brooke Books, LLC; 1 edition (September 1, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0967673739
  • ISBN-13: 978-0967673738
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.4 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #138,664 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This sweeping, overwrought and overwritten saga of the modern-day Jewish exodus is the fiction debut of the bestselling author of Princess: A True Story of Life Behind the Veil in Saudi Arabia. Opening in Paris during the summer of 1938 and closing in Jerusalem in June 1983, the historical melodrama traces two Jewish families, the Gales and the Steins, from their near extinction in 1939 during Hitler's invasion of Warsaw and the ensuing atrocities of the Holocaust. Young Joseph Gale and his wife, Ester Stein, are practically the only survivors, and in 1948, they travel to Palestine. A counterplot chronicles the displacement of an Arab family, the Antouns, from their home in Haifa by Jewish forces in the same year, resulting in their 34-year-long exile in the Shatila refugee camp in Beirut, Lebanon, ending with their deaths in the Israeli-orchestrated Shatila massacre during the Lebanese civil war in 1982. There is a shadowy subplot involving Friedrich Kleist, a former young Nazi SS officer who took part in the Nazi invasion of Poland. A second generation two Gale children, an Antoun son and a Kleist daughter find their fortunes tortuously interwoven as the novel proceeds to an unlikely, over-the-top conclusion, involving questions of mistaken parentage, coincidence and the revelation of wartime horrors. Overlooking artless writing, loyal Sasson fans will likely send this pulpy tapestry of war-torn families and bloodthirsty ethnic and religious ideologies straight to the bestseller list. 100,000 first printing; $200,000 ad/promo; 20-city author tour. (Sept.)
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

Adult/High School-A sprawling novel of historical intrigue that spans the years from 1938 to 1983 in Europe and the Middle East. The families of Moses Stein, a devout Jew from Poland; of Benjamin Gale, a secular, assimilated Jew from France; Freidrich Kleist, a German SS officer; and George Antoun, a Palestinian refugee in Lebanon become entwined through an amazing set of circumstances. Readers are introduced to the families in 1948. In Jerusalem a second son is born to Ester, daughter of Moses Stein, and Joseph Gale. The child is kidnapped. In Haifa, George and Mary Antoun, Palestinian refugees, learn that their family has been killed in an Israeli attack, and in East Berlin, Freidrich Kleist is haunted by a dream of his involvement in the death of Jews in Warsaw. The prologue gives readers tantalizing clues to the identity of Ester's child and clarifies the history of the four families and the ways in which World War II and the establishment of the state of Israel have affected them. How the fate of the families binds them in lasting relationships is described in an exciting narrative of suspense, intrigue, and romance. Each chapter is preceded by a clarifying historical account of the events, a helpful listing of the many individuals included in the story, and attractive black-and-white illustrations. Teens will find the plot involving and feel compassion for the characters, most of whom are unwilling and tragic victims of political extremes and human misunderstanding. The story ends on a note of hope and renewal.
Jackie Gropman, Kings Park Library, Burke, VA
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

Customer Reviews

It is simple and well written.
Kenneth Kamay
I, as an Arab sided with the Jews in their plight throughout the book And wept for the Palestinians.
Mayada Al-askari
I will definitely be recommending this book to my friends.
Avid Reader

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 20, 2001
Format: Hardcover
I know that Jean Sasson writes books that makes people think. I read all of her previous books after a friend forced me to read PRINCESS, which is one of my all time favorite reads.
Importantly, Ms. Sasson is on the cutting edge of so many issues that are now affecting all Americans. Her PRINCESS books were one of the first that told the plight of women in restrictive Muslim cultures. Now everyone in the media is repeating what Ms. Sasson said years ago about women who are forced to veil and unable to enjoy the simple pleasures of making one's own decisions.
Now with her latest book, ESTER'S CHILD, this writer gives the reader a look into the world of Arab/Jewish hatred that has been building for a hundred years. Sadly, the pot is now boiling over, hurting so many innocent people, including Americans who are guilty of nothing but going off to work in a effort to support their young families.
I was pleasantly surprised at how Ms. Sasson handled the telling of this very compelling story. Anytime in the past I have read a book about the Arab/Jewish conflict, the writer took one side or another. If a writer in sympathy with the Arabs took pen in hand, every Jew ended being thoroughly unlikable. On the flip side, if a writer wrote in sympathy with the Jewish side of this issue, they made every Arab a throat cutting fanatic. That sort of writing does nothing but hurt the cause of peace.
Now, Ms. Sasson takes the side of humanity, weaving a beautiful story featuring a Jewish family and an Arab family. I learned so many details of the daily lives of both groups--I learned that the world is not good or bad, but somewhere inbetween, and that most people in that region are simply trying to make the best of a terrible situation.
I get the feeling that Ms.
Read more ›
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Mayada Al-askari on December 18, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Esters Child
Jean Sasson in this book has surpassed in excellence all her previous books; so if the Sultana Trilogy was an International best seller, this book should be a MEGA best seller.
I, as an Arab sided with the Jews in their plight throughout the book
And wept for the Palestinians.
Jean Sasson was able to turn our feelings the way she did for one simple reason , she is a humanitarian , a wonderful person that looks beyond hatred and pores her true feelings and emotions deep
into the stream of humanity. Her ability to do this was coupled with an excellent ability to interweave fiction with true history . I wish more Americans, Arabs and Jews thought the way Ms. Sasson thinks. We would have less venom, hatred and wars in this world that is practically going into pieces at this very moment.
The book is so real , that you live with the characters ( Arabs and Jews )as if they were made of flesh and blood. During my University years in the American university in Beirut during the 70's, I had many friends and classmates that lives in areas close to Shatilla camp. Some had connections with Palestinian Resistance Groups, as a result of which I know Shatilla very well. The book took me back 20 years to those narrow streets , reviving a memory I never thought would be revived . The description lacked one thing only , the odors of the place, only because it was written on paper.
I give the book a million stars , and not just 5 .
M. N. Al-Askari
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Blair Spurney-Rogers on March 13, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Jean Sasson's debut historical novel, Ester's Child, is truly "a searing drama you'll never forget". Her three years of research paid off. It is a must read for all and is quite timely as conflict continues to brew in the Holy Land.
Sasson bought a new understanding to an ancient and complex situation. By using a German, an Arab and a Jewish family she cleverly presented three sides. Her characters are multi-dimensional and very convincing. I found myself wanting to meet them. They are all greatly missed. They continue to be with me as I read the newspaper about the conflict. Her novel put faces on all of the people we see in the news and read about in the newspaper.

Sasson wrote with sensitivity and compassion. It is clear that she has an obvious love for the people in her novel.
With a college degree in history I seek out historical fiction. Ester's Child is a new all time favorite read. I believed it was impossible for her to surpass the Princess trilogy, but she did (and I still strongly recommend them, also).
With great anticipation I look forward to Sasson's next novel!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Jennifer on October 29, 2001
Format: Hardcover
I LOVED this book!! I finished it in about a day and a half and let me tell you with two kids and a husband hanging around it wasn't easy!!
I was literally groaning when I realized that Jordan and Demetrius might be related. And then when we knew they weren't but Demetrius didn't know I was flipping those pages till I knew he was found!! I loved how all the families came together at the was quite a tale!! Also with the
state of war we are in it was interesting to see how people have coped with all the bombing/shells/soldiers etc...with all that adversity and still these families went on and forged ahead and made new lives for themselves. I will probably have to reread it as I'm sure there are some things I missed the first time around. Of course I have to her next book going
to be a follow up of these families? I can't believe we won't know what happens when Jordan/Demetrius get married and especially Christine and Michel, and how they all inter-relate to one another. Also what happens with Friedrich and Eva? Do they go back and mend their relationship or is he mortified by how she acted at the Gale's home? many questions, I can only hope it is not the last that I read of these families!!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews

More About the Author

Jean grew up in a small town in Alabama. From the time she could read, she was a voracious reader. By the beginning of her teens had read every book in the school library. At fourteen she started saving her small allowance until she had enough to purchase a book. She then started her book collection when she bought her first book, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich by William Shirer--an unusual choice for a young girl from the Deep South. She wanted a good read and she wanted value for money, so she decided that the best option for her limited budget was to purchase the book with the most pages.

At school Mrs. Sam Jackson, her beloved literature teacher, soon noticed Jean's preoccupation and took it upon herself to make weekly trips to a nearby college library to exchange a selection of books to satisfy Jean's reading needs.

And today? When not absorbed in writing or the business of being a celebrated author, she reads and reads, maybe a book a day--literary success has enabled her to buy a variety of books; no longer selected by the number of pages.

Her literary tastes are widely varied, and she has a long list of favorites. Heading that list is Sir Winston Churchill, the prolific writer and leader of Britain in the dark years of World War II. Other historic figures, like Napoleon Bonaparte and T.E. Lawrence ("Lawrence of Arabia"), satisfy her two literary loves, history and travel.

The works of Gertrude Bell, Freya Stark and Sir Richard Burton opened her mind's eye to the fascinations and mysteries of the Middle East, and those first musings led to her writing success.

No longer content to only read about the magical world of the Middle East, Jean, armed with hospital administrative skills in addition to her literary thirst, sought and found the ideal opportunity to gain first-hand knowledge--knowledge of that closed and mysterious land, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

In 1978 she was selected to work at the most prestigious royal hospital in the Middle East, The King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Centre in the Saudi capital Riyadh. There her talents blossomed. She became the Administrative Coordinator of Medical Affairs and personal assistant to the hospital medical and executive director, Dr. Nizar Feteih. Through him she was introduced to various Saudi royals, including King Khalid and his Crown Prince Fah'd, who succeeded as King on Khalid's death in 1982.

In 1983, a close friendship between Jean and another royal, Princess Sultana, was forged and years later, based on that friendship, Jean was able to write her widely acclaimed Princess Trilogy. Jean and the princess recently collaborated on a fourth book, Princess, More Tears to Cry, telling the world of the vast gender changes now occurring in the desert kingdom.

Jean worked for four years at the King Faisal Hospital and during that time met the man she was to marry, Peter Sasson, an international man who came from an unusual background. Peter Sasson was a British citizen born in Egypt to a British/Italian father and Yugoslav mother.

Jean lived in Saudi Arabia for twelve years. During those years she devoted herself to activities that would form the bedrock of her career as a writer when she returned to America. She met and made friends with Arab women from the Middle East before leaving Riyadh in April 1991. (At this time Jean and Peter divorced, although they remained close friends.)

After living and traveling in the Middle East for so many years, she felt a special affection for the people of the region. She traveled to Bahrain, The Emirates, Egypt, Yemen, Jordan and other countries in the area. She visited war-torn Lebanon and Kuwait, before and after the first Gulf War. After Saddam Hussein's army invaded the country of Kuwait, Jean became concerned with the fate of the innocent Kuwaitis who were victims of the invaders. Her concern drove her to contact the Kuwaiti Ambassador to the United States, Sheik Saud Nasir Al-Sabah, requesting his advice on traveling to areas housing Kuwaiti refugees.

Armed with a letter of introduction from the Kuwaiti Ambassador, Jean flew Europe and the Middle East to conduct interviews with Kuwaitis. While in Riyadh, Kuwait's Minister of Information invited her to fly to the Saudi mountain village of Taif, Saudi Arabia, where the Kuwaiti royals had formed a government in exile. There she interviewed the Emir and the Crown Prince of Kuwait, among other high ranking Kuwaiti officials, rare interviews that were given to few other journalists or writers.

After leaving Saudi Arabia, Jean traveled to Cairo, Egypt and then to London, meeting many dozens of Kuwaiti citizens living in exile. Jean used the invaluable material she gathered about Kuwaitis on the day of the Iraqi invasion, to write her bestselling book, The Rape of Kuwait.

The book sold over a million copies in one month, proving to the world that ordinary people truly cared about the small country and its people. In fact, Jean Sasson was the first and only author to write about the innocent Kuwaitis who were caught in the cruel grip of the Iraqi invasion. Soldiers from various countries sent to the area to fight for the freedom of Kuwait, were presented with free copies of the book, a kindly gesture made by the Kuwaiti government, so that soldiers might know what they were fighting for, which was freedom.

Her devotion to the cause of Kuwait won her an invitation to return to Kuwait on the Kuwaiti government sponsored "FREEDOM FLIGHT." Staying a month in the ravaged country, she joined joyful Kuwaitis celebrating their hard-won freedom, even as she mourned with the Kuwaitis who had lost loved ones. Never forgetting what she had seen, over the years she continued her writings and concern about the missing Kuwaitis lost to the Iraqi prison system, despite the many efforts made by Kuwaiti royals as well as ordinary Kuwaiti citizens to gain their freedom.

Her care for the people of the Middle East continued, taking her to unusual stories. In 1998 she requested an invitation from Saddam Hussein to visit Iraq. Although she was the author of the book that had greatly displeased Saddam (The Rape of Kuwait) she received a personal invite from the Iraqi dictator. Traveling to Iraq alone and without protection, she saw for herself the privations being suffered by those most vulnerable: the women and children; deprivations at the hands of Saddam Hussein. While in Iraq, she was assigned a woman from one of the leading families of Iraq as her translator, Mayada Al-Askari. Her bestselling book, Mayada, Daughter of Iraq was a result of that trip.

Living in Atlanta, Georgia, Jean wrote book after book, until today she is the author of 12 published books. One of the most successful was the Princess Trilogy, a series of books about her friend, Princess Sultana al-Sa'ud, which was named as one of the most important books written in the past eight-hundred years by a woman. The books have sold millions of copies worldwide.

Jean's books have won a number of awards. The Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Foundation, an organization in Dubai which promotes and recognizes cross-cultural understanding, chose Jean's critically acclaimed book Ester's Child as a book that best promotes world peace.

Jean is the author of Love in a Torn Land, the true story of a Kurdish/Arab woman who joined her freedom fighting Kurdish husband in the mountains of Northern Iraq. After being gassed and temporarily blinded, the Kurdish heroine made her way out of Iraq into Iran. After Jean was contacted by Omar Bin Laden, the 4th born and well-loved son of his father, she wrote the story of Omar and his mother and their life with Osama Bin Laden, titled: Growing up Bin Laden, a critically acclaimed book. She later wrote For the Love of a Son, the true story of an Afghan woman who lost her young child to an abusive husband, and spent many long years searching for her son.

Jean returned to the topic of the Iraqi invasion and occupation of Kuwait with Yasmeena's Choice: A True Story of war, rape, courage and survival, telling the painful story of a Lebanese visitor to Kuwait who was trapped in the country after the invasion. The woman was kidnapped and held in a special prison housing innocent women to be brutally raped.

Jean wrote and published a small tome, American Chick in Saudi Arabia, telling a few stories about her first two years in Saudi Arabia, in regard to the Saudi women she met. Jean plans on finishing this memoir for publication within the next two years.

Jean recently finished her 4th book on Princess Sultana, titled Princess: More Tears to Cry, to be published August 28, 2014.

The list of Jean's best-selling published books:

The Rape of Kuwait (1991)
Princess: A True Story of Life Behind the Veil in Saudi Arabia (1992, updated in 2013)
Princess Sultana's Daughters (This book is titled Daughters of Arabia in the UK.)
Princess Sultana's Circle (This book is titled Desert Royal in the UK.)
Ester's Child (2001) (To be released in an updated paperback copy in 2015.)
Mayada, Daughter of Iraq (2003)
Love in a Torn Land: Joanna of Kurdistan (2007)
Growing Up bin Laden: Osama's wife and son take us inside their secret world (2009)
For the Love of a Son: an Afghan woman's quest for her stolen child (2010)
American Chick in Saudi Arabia (A sample of her memoir not yet completed.)
Yasmeena's Choice: A True Story of War, Rape, Courage & Survival (2013)

Princess: More Tears to Cry (Release date: August 28, 2014)

With a solid background of first-hand experience and years of travel, research and writing, Jean Sasson has made many appearances on national and international television programs as well as having been featured in many international newspaper and magazine articles. She has a huge following of readers from countries all over the world, which is confirmed by the number of her readers and her enormous social media internet following.

Jean is also working on two other important projects, one a secret project, and the other which will be the completion of her memoir of spending so many years living and visiting in the Middle East. Her long-awaited memoir will reveal her many personal and compelling adventures in Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Kuwait and Iraq.


Jean's work has been featured in People, Vanity Fair, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The New Yorker, The New York Post, The Sunday London Times, The Guardian, CNN, FOX, NBC, and many other news organizations.

Here's a note from Author Jean Sasson:

First of all I would like to thank all of you who care about the books I write. So many of you take the time to write me a note and for that I am forever grateful. Your care about the women (and men) I write about means more to me than you will ever know.

So many people ask me: why do you care so much about the plight of women of the world? The answer is simple: because I can't help it.

I grew up in the United States, in a tiny town down South. In my daily experience, women enjoyed full freedom to do as they pleased. During those early years, it was beyond my imagining that women might be discriminated against.

But from a young age, I noticed mankind's too often unthinking mistreatment of other animals. Such cruelty broke my heart, and I took aggressive action to aid animals in need. Mischievous boys who thought it amusing to tie a bag of rocks to a cat's tail soon learned to avoid me. I cared for a number of animals of my own, including some rather eccentric ones, such as a pet chicken named Prissy that I taught to walk on a lead. Another pet chicken, named Ducky, accompanied me like my little shadow and brought me endless joy. I had a number of cats and, when I grew older, I got my first doggie, a black cocker spaniel named, yes, Blackie! Others - Frisky, Doby, and a Peke named Goo Boo - soon followed.

As I grew older, it seemed that all the homeless dogs and cats in my little town "knew" to gather in our yard, sensing that I could not turn a single one away.

An impulse to save needy animals carried on throughout my entire life, and I was willing to pursue eccentric efforts to save a chained or otherwise mistreated animal. After I moved to Saudi Arabia, our villa in a Saudi neighborhood quickly filled with abandoned dogs, cats, birds, rabbits, and even ducks!

Friends who stayed overnight in our home were often confronted with the challenge of sharing their bed with a couple of affectionate cats, of being roused in the morning by songs from caged birds, or of arranging their evening ablutions alongside a surprise in the guest bathroom: a bathtub filled with ducks!

Some people say that my heightened sensitivity is a blessing, while others stamp it a curse. I endorse the "blessing" tag and exult that I've been the joyful "mother" of 31 cats and dogs, the "foster mom" of many others until I could find an appropriate home, as well as the caretaker of too many birds to count. A few years ago a friend from the days of Saudi laughingly confided that my nickname was "The Bird Woman of Riyadh," a title unknown to me during my 12 years of living in the desert kingdom.

In Saudi Arabia, I worked as the Administrative Coordinator of Medical Affairs at The King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Centre. Most hospital reports crossed my desk prior to being presented to my boss who was the head of the hospital. Therefore, I was privy to the details of many human tragedies. But the reports that haunted me most were the stories of women who had been brutally mistreated. And, more often than not, it seems, their injuries had been inflicted by the very men who were supposed to protect them. Many Saudi men, of course, were wholly kind to the females in their family. But there were large numbers of men who felt it their right to lash out at a wife or daughter with cruelty or brutality, the women of the family had nowhere to turn for help. The man's word was absolute law and no outside organization would dare interfere. A woman's helplessness in such a situation is heartrending and nearly unsolvable.

I saw sadness almost every day that I worked at the hospital, most of it associated with women's issues. Unfortunately, there was little I could do - for I, too, was a disenfranchised woman, in a country not my own.

But I met several Saudi women who desperately plotted for change. One was a Saudi princess, a woman the world now knows as Princess Sultana Al-Saud. Understanding her culture well, she described that nothing would crack Saudi men's determination to maintain the status quo...nothing, that is, short of worldwide indignation. For this reason, the princess was fierce in her belief that the story of Saudi women must be told. Most importantly, she wanted her own life experiences to be the story that inflamed the world.

For years we discussed this possibility, but after my book The Rape of Kuwait lent me the clout of a bestseller, we knew the time was right to expose the tragedies that afflict so many women on this earth. By then, we were both mature women who understood that discrimination against women is not limited to Saudi Arabia or to the Middle East, but is a worldwide problem, aggrieving women in Western nations, too. But first we would tell HER story.

Storytelling is powerful. A powerful book or movie can inform and inflame. That is why I think it is wonderful that so many books are now being written about the plight of women worldwide. I support all authors who make this important subject their life's work.

I am proud that PRINCESS was the first book to be written about the life of a Saudi Arabian woman, because Saudi life for females is completely unique and cannot compare with any other Middle Eastern country, or for that matter, any country in the world.

After PRINCESS, I shared other, very powerful stories. After traveling to Iraq in July 1998, I wrote about Mayada Al-Askari in MAYADA, DAUGHTER OF IRAQ. Later I shared the story of Joanna's great adventure, the story of a Kurdish woman's escape from Northern Iraq in the book LOVE IN A TORN LAND. Soon came the compelling story of Osama's wife and son, called: GROWING UP BIN LADEN. My latest account is FOR THE LOVE OF A SON: ONE AFGHAN WOMAN'S QUEST FOR HER STOLEN CHILD, a story that will make you weep and make you laugh. I told a few of my own stories in AMERICAN CHICK IN SAUDI ARABIA. In YASMEENA'S CHOICE, I write about one of the bravest women I've ever met, a Lebanese woman caught up in Gulf War I.

I hope that my books contribute to your learning and understanding about women of the world, and that you, too, work to ensure that every human being - male or female - has the right to lead a life of dignity.

Jean Sasson

For additional information about Jean Sasson and her books, please visit, and on many of these sites, you can write to the author as she enjoys hearing from readers.




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