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Mayada, Daughter of Iraq: One Woman's Survival Under Saddam Hussein Paperback – Bargain Price, September 7, 2004

4.7 out of 5 stars 123 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

When author Sasson (Esther's Child; Princess Sultana's Circle; etc.) was assigned Mayada Al-Askari as a translator on a 1998 trip to Baghdad, she had no idea she would form a lasting friendship with this fluent English-speaker and member of a prominent Iraqi family. When Sasson returned to the United States, the two women wrote letters and telephoned each other weekly until, in 1999, Mayada was arrested by Saddam Hussein's secret police for allegedly printing anti-regime pamphlets in her Baghdad print shop and imprisoned for nearly a month in Iraq's brutal Baladiyat Prison. Sasson's candid, straightforward account of Mayada's time among the 17 "shadow women" crammed into Cell 52 gives readers a glimpse of the cruelty and hardship endured by generations of Iraqis. Mayada stares down this ugliness as soon as she's yanked from her meticulously run shop into the prison's interrogation room: "She saw chairs with bindings, tables stacked high with various instruments of torture.... But the most frightening pieces of... equipment were the various hooks that dangled from the ceiling. When Mayada glanced to the floor beneath those hooks, she saw splashes of fresh blood, which she supposed were left over from the torture sessions she had heard during the night." Sasson's graceful handling of such stomach-turning material, including an overview of Iraq's political and social turmoil, is a tribute to her friend, who escaped to Jordan with her children soon after her release from prison. Although Mayada's story has a happy ending, the unclear fates of her cell mates serve as a painful reminder of how many innocent lives were cut short by Hussein's regime.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Sasson, author of Princess: A True Story of Life behind the Veil in Saudi Arabia (1992), first met Mayada in 1998. A year later, Mayada, granddaughter of a revered Iraqi hero who fought with Lawrence of Arabia, a former journalist, modern businesswoman, and the mother of two children, was arrested and imprisoned on allegations that her business was printing antigovernment flyers. Sasson relates Mayada's imprisonment with 17 "shadow women," similarly falsely accused and imprisoned and subjected to torture and cruelty under the regime of Saddam Hussein. To distract themselves, the women tell each other stories of their lives, and Mayada discloses her high-born, privileged lifestyle even though her family were not members of the leading Baath Party. She recalls her mother's acquaintance with Hussein's wife and their mutual dislike. Mayada also tells of interviews with the cruel and erratic Ali Hassan al-Majid, Hussein's cousin and the man who would become known as Chemical Ali. This is a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at the cruelties suffered by the Iraqis under Hussein. Vanessa Bush
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: NAL Trade (September 7, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0451212924
  • ASIN: B0051BNUWS
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.8 x 8.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (123 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,612,985 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I felt the need to respond to Alicia for her September 15th review of my book, MAYADA, DAUGHTER OF IRAQ. This book is not anti-Arab, in fact, it is the exact opposite, simply telling the story of female prisoners, and their consequent friendships, who endure a hell in Saddam's prisons. This story makes readers admire and respect Arab women, as they should.

I'll respond to the questions raised by Alicia although I will make this brief.

1) About the cover: Once the author sells the rights to a book, he/she has little input about the covers or about anything much to do with the book, including publicity. Publishing is a business and publishing houses have large staffs to decide the best way to make their money back on a book. Dutton first had a cover with Mayada on it but when they took the book to market, the big booksellers protested the cover and said they wanted a veiled woman on it. At that time, the cover was changed. This was not the author's decision.

2) ANYONE WHO WRITES A REVIEW SHOULD HAVE READ THE BOOK THEY DISCUSS: Reviewer Alicia could not have even looked through this book, forget reading it. If she had only thumbed through the book, she would have seen the photographs of Mayada and of her family inside the book. Since Mayada came to the United States and toured with me on the book, and appeared on a number of national television and radio shows, there's no doubt in anyone's mind that Mayada exists. Add to that, Mayada's family is well known and highly respected throughout the entire world. Winston Churchill even wrote the obit for Mayada's grandfather, Jafar Al-Askari. Where on earth does the reviewer get the idea that Mayada Al-Askari does not exist? Such a statement should not be made by anyone.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I purchased this book as soon as it was published because I have read the Princess books by Jean Sasson and already knew that she was an editorial genius. This book is about the title-character, Mayada. Mayada came from a prominent Iraqi family and she owned and managed a printing shop. Tragically under the harsh rule of Saddam Hussein she was accused of breaking the law and thrown in jail. Mayada's basic human rights were violated while she was in jail. She met several women in her jail cell, the "shadow women" as they are called. The shadow women are all so brave and harrowing. Each shadow woman has her own story of despair; one worse than the next. The fate of the shadow women is unknown, but if you read this book you will find out what happens to Mayada. "Mayada" is among Ms. Sasson's best work. It is thought-provoking, intense and written in great detail. It is my sincere hope that Ms. Sasson will write a follow-up story this.
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Format: Hardcover
My name is Mayada Al-Askari , and I am the subject of the book Ms. Jean Sasson wrote : (Mayada Daughter of Iraq) . I read Ms . Noor Al-Timimi's review of the book , and was surprised about two points in her reasons for not giving the book 5 stars , where she assumes that :

1- The existence of : "Conflict in some details like it was mentioned at the beginning of the story that she was caught before her daughter's birthday, then at the end of the book she repeated that she got caught right after her daughter's birthday."

There is no conflict about the dates of my daughter Fay's birthday , or the date of my arrest, Fay was born on the 17th of July 1983 , we celebrated her birthday on the 17th of July 1999 in the Alwiya Club , it was a Saturday , and I was arrested two days after , on the 19th of July 1999 , a date I will never forget for the rest of my life , then , in the letter to ( Samara) , there was a mention that I went to the club with both my children , Fay and Ali to use the pay phone there , and that I baked a cake to get all the personnel there to gather around Fay and Ali , for me to be able to make the phone calls without the switchboard person listening to my conversations , it was not Fay's birthday then , but she took the cake as a gift , as she did not offer them her cake on her birthday that she celebrated on the 17th of July in the club . I wish Ms . Noor had read that part in a more thorough manner before passing on that judgment .

2- Ms . Noor Al-Timimi says : " Despite that it is purely my assumption, but the author did not convince me that she met Mayada "by coincidence".
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Format: Hardcover
Like everyone else who keeps up with news reports on what's happening in Iraq, I was bamboozled by the search for weapons of mass destruction, disappointed by the lack of results and second-guessing the choice we Americans made to interfere in the sovereign rights of a member of the United Nations.
Then I was lucky enough as a journalist to meet Mayada...after I read Jean Sasson's book about her life.
Sasson depicts Mayada in the book as a true gentlewoman who traces her lineage back to remarkable gentlemen and women of the educated elite in the part of the world where civilization first emerged. In person, she proved to be that bright and gentle woman.
Mayada, through the book and in person, is an excellent spokesman for the injustices of the just-ousted regime in Iraq, for the justice represented by our unilateral action in Iraq and for the promise of a democratic stronghold in the Middle East.
After reading the book, even as a seasoned journalist, I have a different frame of reference when I hear, see or read the sensational reports intimating that our U.S. actions were or are based on eroneous grounds.
Mayada - a jounalist herself - calls it "a good thing." Knowing her story now, I agree. Read the book and you'll watch history unfold from the viewpoint of someone who has been there.
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