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Publisher's Summary

Zainab Salbi was 11-years-old when her father was chosen to serve as Saddam Hussein's personal pilot, her family often forced to spend weekends with Saddam where he watched their every move. As a palace insider, Zainab offers a singular glimpse of what it is like to come of age under a dictator and provides an intimate portrait of the man she was taught to call "uncle". She watched as Saddam pitted friends, spouses, and even children against each other to compete for his approval. She was sent to donate her mother's jewelry to one of the world's richest men, asked to erase her memory as she heard of crimes she was not supposed to hear of, and witnessed her mother hiding her tears lest it upset Saddam. Her mother eventually sent Zainab to America for an arranged marriage, to spare her from Saddam's growing affection, but the marriage intended to save her turned out to be another world of tyranny and abuse.

Despite extraordinary psychological challenges, Zainab started over. She forged a new identity as a champion of female victims of war, dedicating her life to speaking out on behalf of oppressed women around the world. Her unique nonprofit organization has been featured in the media numerous times, including multiple appearances by Zainab on The Oprah Winfrey Show. But until now, Zainab has never told this very personal tale. In this intimate portrait, she reveals the tyrant through the eyes of a child, a secretly rebellious teenager, an abused wife, and ultimately a professional woman coming to terms with the horror of secrets her mother revealed only on her deathbed. Through her ability to come to terms with the child she used to be and the dangerous world in which she managed to survive, Between Two Worlds emerges as a story of heroism like no other.

©2005 Zainab Salbi; (P)2005 Tantor Media, Inc.

Critic Reviews

"This may be the most honest account of life within Saddam's circle so far." (Publishers Weekly)
"This compelling memoir is not only a story of personal success but also a fascinating glimpse at a fanatical leader." (Booklist)

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  • Overall
  • Ella
  • toronto,, Ontario, Canada
  • 12-01-09

An excellent history lesson

Zainab Salbi was the daughter of Saddam Hussein's pilot. By being his pilot he was now part of Saddam's "inner circle" and because of that his family has to follow suit. Zainab was just a young girl when she was made to call Saddam "Amo", which meant uncle. Through his tyranny, he expected people to show their affection for him by forcing them to give him gifts of gold, kiss him, call him endearing names and be at his beck and call, which included rape if he so desired. Zainab's parents were very loving, and it was that love for her and fear of Saddam that forced her mother to make a mistake that would plunge Zainab into a hell even she did not know under Saddam's regime. Her emotional journey from childhood to womanhood led her on her path to start an organization called Women for Women International, an organization that empowers women victims of war, to not only survive their ordeal, but to become whole again. Zainab turned her family's oppressive life experiences into a positive action. A few months back I joined WFWI and am now sponsoring a woman in Rwanda. It was particularly interesting for me to see how this organization came to be. Through the eyes of a frightened child, a confused teenager and then an abused woman, Zainab Salbi rose to the top and turned it all around for herself and other victims.
Josephine Bailey did an excellent job of narrating the novel as well. An eye opening read that should not be missed.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Eunice
  • Harrodsburg, KY, United States
  • 11-10-08

Couldn't hit the "pause" button!

This is a fascinating book! It was hard to turn off long enough to get a night's sleep!!! This portrayal of life under Saddam is so well told, Iraqi lifestyle so beautifully described... Zaineb's story affirms that deposing Saddam was an important accomplishment, and hopefully will continue to prove over time to be a fresh start for Iraqi freedom.

About the narrator: Josephine Bailey is awesome. I've listened to a number of her books. Her narration skills make any great book even better, which certainly is the case here.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Mara
  • Washington, DC, USA
  • 01-08-06

Beautifully written and narrated

I heard about this book because I am a supporter of Women for Women International and the author is the founder of that organization. This book provides an amazing insight into life in Iraq during Saddam Hussein's rule and especially into the life of his inner circle. The narrative is very well written - the tension (and later terror) builds up, subtly at first, but with ever increasing intensity until it becomes quite clear how people under his wing would live in fear of him and of each other. I could not stop listening until it was finished. Congratulations to Zainab Salbi for using these early life experiences as a stepping off point for such wonderful work with women survivors of conflict around the world.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Performance
  • Story

A pleasure to listen to Ms. Bailey's narration

A unique life story narrated expertly by a voice (Ms. Bailey) that made it difficult to suspend listening to each day of my walk, of Zainab's evolution to full and authentic maturity.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Carol
  • Elk City, OK, United States
  • 09-20-09

Near true evil . . .

This is as close as most of us may ever come to understanding Saddam Hussain, and the culture that bred him. Told in first person it has a strong mother-daughter theme that shows how similar we are to women of the East; yet how disparate. From her childhood to her 20s; it is heart-wrenching and enlightening. Like Hitler, Hussain was an evil despot. In simply telling her life story, she reveals 'Uncle' and those trapped close to him.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Performance
  • Story

Riveting$

this story touched my heart and gave me a view of life and perspective I had never considered. thank you Zainab Salbi for sharing your story with me.

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  • Story

Eye opener

Zainab is a few yrs older than me and this book made me look at my life and think about what I was doing in this era. I want to learn more about the war and how it effects lives. Every free moment I had I was listening even on my 7min drive to and from work. I have talked to my daughter, friends and coworkers about this book.

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Great Listen!

it was so fascinating to hear about life in Iraq from the perspective of someone whose family was quite literally held hostage as forced friends of Sadaam Hussein.

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  • Story
  • Jesus
  • VISALIA, CA, United States
  • 04-28-12

Iraq

What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

That the author was not so self seving, it was not a story of Iraq and her hardships, it was a story about her family that she tried to sell as near perfect. She went on and on about her family. Personally I lost interest soon, I was hoping for a book, it came across as a soap opera with her and her family the main caracters

What was most disappointing about Zainab Salbi and Laurie Becklund ’s story?

That she gave no thought to her audience, I had the feeling that any thing she wrote to her was gold

Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Josephine Bailey?

Hard question, i don't think a better narrator wqould have made a diffrence, There were a few times when it finally became interesting, but few and far in between

You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

Not to me, I kept thinking since there are "chik flicks" this might be a chick book

Any additional comments?

Just that I've read 6 of your wonderful books and ths is the first"dud"

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Between two worlds

This is a really interesting story and well read. I think most people will learn a lot about what it was like to live under Sadam's thumb..