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Princess: A True Story of Life Behind the Veil in Saudi Arab Paperback – January 1, 2010

4.4 out of 5 stars 1,034 customer reviews
Book 1 of 3 in the Princess Trilogy Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this consistently gripping work, a Literary Guild alternate selection in cloth, the American-born Sasson recounts the life story of a Saudi princess she met while living in Saudi Arabia, offering a glimpse of the appalling conditions endured by even privileged women in the Middle East. Photos.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

One must keep in mind the context of time and place when reading this emotional and exciting book to alleviate some of the horror of the injustices endured by the women described here. Equality of men and women has not worked out in any society, but the status of women in Islam is more problematic in that canon law is applied according to the social climate. Consequently, countries influenced by the West, such as Egypt, are more relaxed than countries like Saudi Arabia that are ruled by strict Hanbali law, which subjects women to unwelcome marriages, execution at whim, and the boredom of purdah . In this book, Sasson ( The Rape of Kuwait , Knightsbridge Pub. Co., 1991) tells the fascinating story of "Sultana," an unidentified Saudi princess who yearns for recognition in her own right, not as an adjunct of men. For those who wish to know more, Soraya Altorki's Women in Saudi Arabia ( LJ 1/86) and Paryeen Shaukat Ali's Status of Women in the Muslim World (Aziz Pub., 1975. o.p.) are good. Recommended for popular collections. (Illustrations not seen.) Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 5/1/92.
- Louise Leonard, Univ. of Florida Libs., Gainesville
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Windsor-Brooke Books, LLC; 1 edition (January 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0967673747
  • ISBN-13: 978-0967673745
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,034 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #33,167 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
As an American Muslim woman who once lived in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, I became overwhelmed by Sultana's compelling account. As a Muslim, I appreciated her explicit reminder that the transgressions of the Saudi men depicted in the work did not represent Islam. Rather, their misinterpretation of the Quran and Haddith led them to oppress the women of their country, not their true and accurate following of our religion. As one who has worn the abaaya and the veil, and who has met countless women trapped in polygamy in Saudi Arabia and in the United States, I can relate to her experience. Yet, as I was fortunate to be an American in Saudi Arabia, I often did not have to deal firsthand with the cultural oppression of Saudi men; however, I feel that her plight and those of our Muslim sisters is my own. Although Sultana comes from the wealthiest of Saudi families, she accurately and adequately represents the lives of most Saudi women, regardless of socioeconomic status. Her story is real and true; she did not exaggerate or stretch the truth. This work deservedly holds a position as one of the top 500 books for and about women, and should be read by everyone.
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Format: Paperback
In the course of the true life stories found in the book Princess, by Jean P. Sasson, the reader becomes enveloped in the terrible and heart-wrenching lifestyles of middle-eastern women. Through the course of the narrative, though horrifying stories are related in a truly eye-opening manner, the reader discovers a true slice of Princess Sultana's imaginative and vivacious personality, and weeps as it slowly becomes lost in the process of womanhood in Saudi Arabia. "The history of our women is buried behind the black veil of secrecy. Neither our births or deaths are made official in any public record. The common emotion expressed at the birth of a female is either sorrow or shame." These few sentences, which bring about the whole theme of the non-entity of women, lead us to much more shocking crimes against women which, in that society, are not considered to be crimes whatsoever. The stories of Nadia, who was drowned in the family pool by her father as a way of "protecting her honor", her sister Sara, who attempted suicide after being sold as a wife to a sick and sexually brutal elderly man, and a brave Filipino maid named Madeline, who was raped nightly by all the male members of the family she served under, illustrate how Jean Sasson was able to intertwine other supporting character's stories with the life of Princess Sultana effectively and believably. Some stories, which show how these incredibly courageous women, can survive in this kind of life, bring the reader to cry and cheer simultaneously. Others, which, sadly, lack the happy ending we could hope for, are gut-wrenching due to the fact that they are horribly true. Behind the black veil of the Muslim women lie incredibly diverse personalities, characters, and spirits, which come alive to us through the voice of Sultana.Read more ›
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
I am an unbiased reader, yet one with first-hand knowledge of social customs of Saudi Arabia. I lived for over 8 years in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia and worked as a nurse in the King Faisal Spec Hosp and Research Ctr. Anyone with the slightest understanding of the Kingdom and the manner of life for women in that country is fully aware that the stories told in Princess is the sad reality of life for women in that country. The only people who have a hard time believing Jean Sasson are people who have never lived in Saudi or possibly jealous people who simply want to attack a good book. As a nurse, I personally cared for Saudi women at the hospital who had endured horrible acts of cruelty from their Saudi husbands. I can say with certainty that many of the stories told by Jean Sasson are duplicated many times over in the daily lives of women in that country. I took care of a 13year old girl, who was suicidal because she was being forced to marry a very old man in his late 60's. She considered herself bright, and she was, and wanted to be educated and have some choice later in life who she was to marry, but this was her parents decision. They would either give drug therapy or electrical shock in some cases to make the women more compliant! I was the nurse in charge when a Saudi princess was locked away in a private room in the hospital. She had been abducted from the West by her own government and was forced to return to the Kingdom. The look on that poor woman's face when she discovered she had been drugged by her own American doctor and brought back into the country on a private jet, I will never forget!Read more ›
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Format: Paperback
This an easy to read absolutely riveting account of the lives of upper class Saudi women, written by a member of the royal family. By way of background, the "Princess" of the title is a direct descendant of the founder of the current Saudi monarchy, and has told her story at great personal risk, according to the author. Even taking into account that there are several hundred princes and princesses who claim to be direct descendants, I found it hard to understand how this book, which is actually the first of three, could have been published without its source being discovered, given the unbelievably tight constraints the society places on the behavior of women. Be that as it may, the lives of these women are lived in gilded cages, which is fine if you can totally suppress your personality and intelligence and observe the rules. The ones who can't suffer consequences that I find hard to believe exist in the modern world.
On the surface, life seems pleasant enough--the royal family lives in luxury that is unimaginable even by American standards--once a young couple is married, the building of several palaces seems a matter of course. When the Princess goes on her honeymoon, her new husband buys all the seats in first class so they can have privacy. Yet life is circumscribed severely--education is often withheld from women; husbands are chosen for a girl at a very young age in order to cement family or business alliances, with no regard for suitability in terms of age or personality. Abuse of women in marriage is common. From childhood, the wishes of men are accomodated in all things--a son can take the possessions of his sister without question. Porsches and Rolexes for male teenagers are common.
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