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Growing Up bin Laden: Osama's Wife and Son Take Us Inside Their Secret World Hardcover – October 27, 2009

126 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

In 1974, at the age of 15, Najwa married her first cousin, 17-year-old Osama bin Laden. She had grown up in a conservative Muslim household; he was one of the wealthy, powerful bin Ladens. She recalls a young husband drawn away on business and her life of seclusion and duty, giving birth to seven sons and four daughters, accepting other wives and children into the family and its itinerant homes. Omar, the fourth child of Osama and Najwa, recalls a severely strict father: no toys, no ventilators for boys who suffered from asthma, hikes in the desert with no water. Omar remembers accompanying his father to a training camp at 15 and their later confrontations—and eventual break—as he began to understand his father’s involvement in al-Qaeda. He also recalls conflicting emotions, including love and pride in his father and eventually shame for his father’s renown as a terrorist and architect of the 9/11 attacks on the U.S. A compelling look at the intimate family life of a notorious man, as told by his wife and son. --Vanessa Bush


[Audio Review] Two of Osama bin Ladin s family members provide a troubling, yet fascinating, look at his private life. His first wife, Nawja, and fourth son, Omar, alternate chapters that recount the family's descent from privilege to subsistence living in a training camp in Afghanistan. With the mere hint of an accent, narrator Mel Foster captures Omar's persona as a boy as his once-revered father becomes increasingly militant and fanatical. Lorna Raver and Sherry Adams give convincing voice to the naïve Nawja as she tells of family life and her relationship with her husband. The female narrators also present an introduction and appendices full of historical and current family information. M.O.B. © AudioFile 2010, Portland, Maine --AudioFile --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press; First Edition edition (October 27, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312560168
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312560164
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.2 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (126 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #896,275 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

95 of 101 people found the following review helpful By Marigold on November 5, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I really don't know how to describe this book----it is not a book that is at all disrespectful of Osama bin Laden yet it is brutally honest. Two of the authors, a wife and a son of bin Laden, clearly love(d) the man but they have quite a saga to tell about life with him before he became a hate filled terrorist.
Their description of Osama's journey from devout Muslim to a jihadist is fascinating.
Their "take" on the reasons why Osama came to hate the West, particularly Americans and the British, is ---again---fascinating.
Furthermore, the main reason (according to them) that he plotted, planned and committed the acts that led to 9-11 are, if they are true, shocking and seem to involve his feelings of personal betrayal by the Saudi royal family regarding certain events of the First Gulf War.
The book starts off a bit slowly but catches up speed quickly and now I want re-read it and try to absorb more details.
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48 of 52 people found the following review helpful By Stefan Ulstein on January 10, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Bin Laden is just like a lot of spoiled rich kids, except that he's not. We find that he was heir to a construction fortune, but that he was a fine busnessman in his own right. He excelled at civil engineering. He likes to drive fast cars--fast. He allowed his first wife to select his third wife, as though she were choosing new decor for the living room. He takes his family from the luxury of Saudi Arabia to the poverty of a mountain cave in Afghanistan.

Sasson was the first major writer to open up the veiled life of Saudi women in her blockbuster, "Princess." Many critics, including the illustrious Christopher Hitchens, dismissed it as over-written and false. Then, after the Gulf War, we found out that Sasson was right. Now she takes us into the family life of Osama bin Laden. This is an important book. If we think of bin Laden as a one-dimensional monster, we will never understand him. He's an enemy of democracy and western liberalism, but we'll never prevail over him and his followers if we remain ignorant of all aspects of his life.

This is the most fascinating book I've read in a long, long while.
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42 of 46 people found the following review helpful By Mrs. Maria G. J. Larkworthy on November 23, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I was sorry when I came to the end of Growing Up Bin Laden; I wanted more. I read it slowly and savoured it as much as I could, but it is a page turner. I worked for many years in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates; I have travelled overland through Afghanistan and Pakistan and can vouch that Jean Sasson has caught the atmosphere and the modus vivendi of the region.

As the stories told by Nawja and Omar unfolded I could easily picture the lives they lived and was touched by their loyalty to Osama bin Laden. But I was so deeply shocked when Osama told Omar and his brothers that they meant no more to him than any other Afghani, that even now there lingers an ache for them. Maybe one day Ms Sasson will interview Osama and get his side of the story!

This is an easy, informative and interesting read. Although the events are harrowing at times Nawja and Omar hold onto their hope until the very end when they are forced to accept reality.
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15 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Patriot on January 24, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Until September 11, 2001 the world paid little serious attention to significant terrorist attacks around the world. With the 9-11 attack of the World Trade Center the world woke up realizing there is a new world order of terrorism that will remain a threat until those responsible are eliminated from the planet. The birth of modern terrorism was fathered by Osama bin Laden in 1988 when he founded Al-qaeda. While born of enormous wealth with the opportunity to do good he chose a path of evil. From December 1991-2008 there were 22 major terrorist attacks around the world. The United States experienced 2 attacks in 2009, one at Ft. Hood, Texas, the second on Christmas Day when a radical Islamic terrorist attempted to blow up a passenger plane approaching Detroit Metro Airport. Given this backdrop it is imperative the world be aware of the man responsible and the twisted logic behind his endeavor to convert every human being to Islam or kill them. His true nature is revealed through the daring expose' made possible by his first wife Najwa and fourth son Omar as co-authored with best-selling author Jean Sasson. Osama had at least 4 wives and 20 children. Obviously, possessed by his ambition to murder, he was a part-time father and is a full-time terrorist. He moved his family from one hell-hole to another refusing them basic conveniences of life. He banned electricity, medicine, air conditioning, reasonable cooking facilities and appropriate sanitation. In their Tora Bora shack only animal skins covered windows in the harsh mountain winters. He forced his family to endure survival training by sleeping in holes in the ground with nothing but sand and twigs for cover. He took his sons to the desert and withheld food and water.Read more ›
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Mr. J. A. Bromley on December 6, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a "can't put down" until you've finished book. A brilliant insight in how the mind and obsession of Osama Bin laden worked.
I bought three copies of this book. My first after reading I gave to a friend. The second for my Kindle. The third to a friend who had worked for the Bin Laden family in Saudi Arabia
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