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Leap of Faith: Memoirs of an Unexpected Life Paperback – March 9, 2005

3.7 out of 5 stars 300 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Anyone who loved The King and I will readily warm to the love story of Queen Noor and the late King Hussein of Jordan. Born in America in 1951 as Lisa Halaby, Noor came from a wealthy, well-connected family and was part of Princeton's first co-ed class. Her father's aviation business produced a chance meeting with King Hussein in 1976, and a year or two later Noor realized the king was courting her. He was 41, she was 26. The rumor mills buzzed: was she the next Grace Kelly? Before long, the king renamed her Noor (light in Arabic), and she converted to Islam. They were married in the summer of 1978. From this point on, her story is mostly his, mainly covering his attempts to broker peace in the Middle East. There are meetings with Arafat, Saddam Hussein, American presidents and other leaders. Noor details Hussein's struggles to create Arab unity and his vision of peaceful coexistence with Israel. Her own activities developing village-based economic self-sufficiency projects and improving Jordan's medical, educational and cultural facilities take second place to her husband's struggles on the world stage. And while she occasionally acknowledges her domestic difficulties, Noor is careful not to allow personal problems to become any more than asides. Her pleasing memoir ends with the king's death after his struggle with cancer, although readers may suspect that this smart, courageous woman will remain a world presence for years to come.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

The word unexpected in the book's subtitle refers to the fact that this American-born, Princeton-educated woman was in the beginning stages of a career in urban planning when, rather suddenly, she married the much older and thrice-married king of Jordan. Queen Noor offers a vastly informative and even fascinating memoir of her life from her childhood in an Arab American family, daughter of a very successful man in politics and business (including a stint as director of the Federal Aviation Administration), to her tenure as consort of the charismatic King Hussein, who died in 1999 of cancer. Her Majesty naturally adopts a Jordanian perspective in her reminiscences; we are not surprised when she posits, for instance, that "Jews, Muslims, and Christians had lived peacefully in the Middle East and indeed in Palestine for centuries. It was not until the rise of Zionism and the creation of Israel that animosities took root." As the woman who stood behind one of the major players in the Middle East in the second half of the twentieth century, Queen Noor brings a unique perspective to the contemporary history of the region. With this book's release, the articulate, engaging and photogenic author will undoubtedly be on the talk-show circuit, so librarians should be prepared for demand. Brad Hooper
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Miramax; 1st edition (March 9, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1401359485
  • ISBN-13: 978-1401359485
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.9 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (300 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #140,954 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on May 10, 2003
Format: Hardcover
This is a book that had to be written and should be read. It is clearly aimed at the average American audience because it outlines a prespective of the Middle East that U.S. readers have been deprived of. And it might perhaps partially answer the common question that has been frequently asked in America since 9/11: "Why do they hate us?" Queen Noor's book is written in simple form and is an easy read, whereby she touches upon her own personal experience as King Hussein's wife, step-mother to his many children, as mother, and of course, as the American queen of an Arab country.
I found her private political discussions with her late husband as the most fascinating and she reveals, for the first time, some "inside information" throughout the various crises facing Jordan and the region. However, the queen was clearly careful in not revealing enough and many questions remained unanswered, be they political or personal, and sometimes jumps from one issue to the next without clarifying what happened next or how a certain problem was eventually resolved. She does not divulge details of her relationship with her older step-children, especially the now King Abdullah, her husband's eldest son who was suddenly named heir to the throne shortly before Hussein's death. She clearly did not want to ruffle any feathers through her cautious accounts -- after all, she is still officially a Jordanian queen -- but wanted to dedicate this book to portraying her husband's long search for peace in the Middle East.
As for some of the reviews here, criticism of the book and writer as "anti-semitic" is ludicrous, and simply proves one of her points in the book on extremist Jews being "planted" to sabotage her message or any other Arab message meant to reach U.S. ears.
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Format: Hardcover
"Leap of Faith" can be deceiving. At first you think: cool upper middle class blonde marries much older(and shorter) King. Ah, a late 20th century Grace Kelly? An American Princess Diana?
Far from it. Queen Noor, who began her life as Lisa Halaby, is and always has been a serious, thoughtful woman who chooses to live her life for politics, philosophy, her family (both her one of origin and by marriage), and causes. She does not and appears to have never been a woman consumed by clothes, jewelry, gossip, and glamour. (Though some of her detractors might argue differently.)
This book traces her beginnnings in the upper middle and upper classes of American society. Her father, Najeeb Halaby, was a very successful Arab American who at various times ran the FAA and Pan Am. Her mother was of Swedish American descent. While Lisa/Noor appears to have inherited the looks of her Nordic ancestors, she clearly embraced her Arab American heritage far more enthusiastically as a child. Lisa, as she was then known, grew up in affluent sections of LA, Washington, DC, and New York. She was educated at the finest schools-westlake, national cathedral school, chapin and concord academy-and was a strong student and outstanding athlete (captain of the field hockey team). She took her studies and the politics of the 1960's very seriously and insisted on transferring from the apolitical Chapin to the more academically challenging Concord Academy. Eventually she lands at Princeton, in the first female class. After she receives a degree in urban planning, she moves from one international job to another and finally lands at an architecture firm in Jordan.
And the rest, as they say, is history.
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Format: Hardcover
This is an extremely well thought out, intriguing book. If you are thinking you are getting some book about a fluff queen in a little country - you are mistaken. This is a book about an unbelieveably strong, brilliant woman married to a man who happened to be king of a country undergoing tremendous strife for the entire time of their marriage. It made me realize my poor knowledge of the region and of the strength and values of the Jordanian people. A great book.
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Format: Hardcover
Once in awhile a book comes along that does make change. This book is a true enlightenment for many. We have ideas as to what goes on in the Arab world, but this clearly sets the record straight. I cannot emphasize the importance of needing to read this if you are one who has any interest or concern covering this huge reality.
From King Hussien's vision as to what a womans role is to the rest of the region, to what this woman was able to move forward with. This gives us insight as to what is in fact possible with proper diplomacy and extreme diligence.
What I cannot convey more of is how this book seriously applies to all of us and especially in this current time of war in Iraq. There is application in this book which is of incredible intellect and insight. Women are in fact a huge influence in the area if these women know how to get into position and pass the message continually. I highly recommend this along with another book which covers this same exact effort in the Arab world and how women are desperately needed to get fearlessly involved, title is SB 1 or God by Karl Maddox.
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