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Between Two Worlds: Escape from Tyranny: Growing Up in the Shadow of Saddam Paperback – August 17, 2006
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Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
From the time she was a child, Salbi and her family lived in constant fear of Saddam Hussein. In 1969, when she was 11 years old, her father was appointed to be his personal pilot. Because of this prestigious promotion, Saddam's presence in their home became increasingly commonplace, so much so that she and her family were instructed to call him "Amo," the Iraqi word for "Uncle." They were invited to parties at Saddam's palace and, in some of his more "merciful moments," were given lavish gifts, including a house on the palace grounds where they could spend their weekends. "But [Salbi] came to understand that these moments would be followed by months of excruciating, often mystifying punishment." Their movements were monitored. Their freedom to travel and pray was severely limited. Any difference in opinion from what Saddam believed was strictly forbidden. Although they looked to outsiders as though they were living in the lap of luxury, she and her family were trapped in an oppressive, highly controlled lifestyle with no likely means of escape.Read more ›
The reason i decided to write this review is that the published reviews here suggest this is mostly about Saddam Hussein. It's far more multilayered than that. There's a whole separate story line of journal entries Salbi's mother writes to her as she is dying (and can't talk) that finally reveal secrets she kept from her daughter when she was small because Saddam "could read eyes." It's a story about how people adapt to -- and become responsible for -- their own imprisonment.
I also learned about something you never read about -- real Iraqi people, secular Shiites, educated women most American women could easily identify with. I would recommend this to book groups and fiction-readers who loved the Kiterunner or, for different reasons, Secret Life of Bees or Alice Seybold. It raises so many universal questions about facing not only one's tormentor, but oneself, and finding the courage to start over.
Zainab Salbi is also the daughter of a 747 captain who was, in the early 1980s, Saddam Hussein's personal pilot.
The connection between these identities --- fearless champion of oppressed women, terrified child in an oppressed nation --- is the story of "Between Two Worlds." It isn't the easiest book to read; "searing" is not too strong to describe the experience. What keeps you going --- indeed, what keeps you reading as fast as you can --- is how brilliantly Salbi and her collaborator, Laurie Berklund, show you what it was like to grow up "privileged" in Iraq: 24/7 scared, silenced, and, inevitably, victimized. And you stay through the horror because you know how it ends: a young woman in her 20s, with her back against the wall, will face down every demon, and, through her tears, come out slugging.
The first thing to understand about Salbi's connection to Saddam is that it was a curse. As a child, she never used Saddam's name; he was "Amo," an uncle. Why the silence? Because everyone he befriended knew Saddam was a psychopath: charming, unpredictable, deadly. He would drop by her parents' Baghdad home at all hours, usually clutching a bottle of Chivas Regal. And then he would talk about killing friends who betrayed him.
Her mother did her best to shelter her daughter: "I learned that men were born with power and women obtained it through sharpness of intellect and good acts. If you were kind, wise and did good works, you could wind up being the princess who had it all.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I recently reviewed a host of books on the history and development of Islam and Middle Eastern history (list at bottom of this post). Read morePublished 1 day ago by JustinHoca
This book gave me for the first time a graphic mental picture of life people suffered during that period of time.Published 7 days ago by Amazon Customer
Amazing story. Could not put the book down. Thank you for sharing your story.Published 3 months ago by Union Chiropractic
This is a compelling book packed full of "behind-the-scenes" of Saddam's tyranny, yet easily readable. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Amy M
Very interesting, not what I was expecting . Living under Sadam's rule from an affluent perspective , yet seeing the opposite also.Published 6 months ago by Book Lover Carol