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Growing Up bin Laden: Osama's Wife and Son Take Us Inside Their Secret World Paperback – December 7, 2010


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin; First Edition edition (December 7, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312560877
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312560874
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.6 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (96 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #322,546 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"Apart from anything Bin Laden’s wives may have to say that might be useful to intelligence officers..., there is also a powerful natural curiosity about the women and their children: What was it like to live with the founder of Al Qaeda, to call him husband or father? As with Hitler or Pol Pot, you want to understand whether his bizarre combination of grandiosity and viciousness carried over to domestic life — in Bin Laden’s case, whether he perhaps was an eerily ordinary parent, complaining about what was for dinner, nagging the kids about their homework....
The most vivid look the American public has had at Bin Laden’s family life is from a 2009 memoir by his son Omar bin Laden and Omar’s mother, Najwa bin Laden. They wrote 'Growing Up bin Laden' with the assistance of Jean Sasson, an American writer. The book includes what may be the most complete account available of the terrorist’s immediate family." --Scott Shane, The New York Times, May 15, 2011
 
“Fascinating. . . . Together, Najwa and Omar provide an intimate account of a family life that became steadily more dangerous and bizarre. . . . From affluence and comfort in Jeddah they were reduced to penury and privation in Afghanistan, all the wives and their many children living without electricity, running water, or even real beds, in forced pursuit of Osama’s jihadist dreams.” —The Washington Post

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Customer Reviews

It was a very interesting book to read.
NYgirl
This is honestly an excellent book that I think everyone should read if they want to know about Osama bin Laden or what it would be like living with him.
Bonafide Hustler
This is the most fascinating book I've read in a long, long while.
Stefan Ulstein

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

92 of 97 people found the following review helpful By BUXUS SEMPERVIRENS 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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45 of 49 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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4 of 4 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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