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Publisher's Summary

"I was not always the wife of Osama bin Laden. Once I was an innocent child dreaming little girl dreams."

Thus begins this powerful story by Najwa bin Laden, who married her cousin Osama bin Laden at the age of 15 to become his first wife and the mother to 11 of his children, and her son, Omar bin Laden, the fourth-born son of Osama bin Laden. Together, mother and son tell an extraordinarily powerful story of a man hated by so many yet both loved and feared by his family, with spine-tingling details about the life and times of the man they knew as a husband and father, including:

  • Osama's disapproval of modern conveniences, including electricity and medicine
  • His plan to toughen up his sons by taking them into the desert without food or water
  • Transporting his wives and children to the rough terrain of Sudan, where he claimed to be preparing them for attacks from Western powers, commanding them to dig holes and to sleep in those holes, allowing nothing more than sand and twigs for cover
  • Omar's horror at the rape and murder of a boy his own age by members of a jihadist group living among them in the Sudan
  • What happened in the bin Laden home in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, on the morning of September 11, 2001, and Omar's surprise phone call with his mother, who escaped from Afghanistan only two days before the shattering events that killed so many innocent people
  • Since September 11, 2001, journalists have struggled to uncover carefully guarded information about Osama's private life. Until now, Osama bin Laden's family members have not cooperated with any writers or journalists. Now, with unprecedented access and insight, Jean Sasson, author of the best-selling Princess: A True Story Behind the Veil in Saudi Arabia, takes us inside the secret world of Osama bin Laden.

    ©2009 Jean Sasson; (P)2009 Tantor

    What members say

    Average Customer Ratings

    Overall

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    • Overall

    Fascinating. I could not stop listening.

    This book is not a literary work, but rather the memories of Najwa and Omar, two people who knew Osama Bin Laden not as a hero or a villain, but as a husband and father. He was a man they both loved in different ways, but also became a man they had to break with in order to survive.

    Najwa's strength is the strength of love and determination to bend her will to her husband's and make the best of increasingly difficult circumstances for herself and her children. Omar's story is that of a young boy who grew up idolizing his hero father, but also being extremely disturbed by the hardships his father made him suffer -- sometimes carelessly, and sometimes deliberately. Although there are vivid recollections of attacks and violence as well as severe deprivation, what fascinates is Omar's inner journey from violence and retaliation toward peace and reconciliation. That he was able to survive the constant messages justifying hatred and killing and retain his love of all of god's creation -- both animal and human, is remarkable.

    Please listen with an open heart and mind to the lives of these people. There were a few turning points that might have averted the 9/11 attacks that are probably unknown the common man in the west before this book. The book deeply conveys that no matter how misguided we may consider Osama Bin Laden, he is a man convinced of his own righteousness and the justice of his mission. His family as well as the rest of the world, bears the scars of that obsession.



    5 of 5 people found this review helpful

    • Overall
    • Joy
    • Bear, DE, United States
    • 01-01-11

    True grit and painful to hear

    It must have been painful to write this book- it details one man's descent into extremist madness and the horrific toll it took on his wives and children. This book is a great read and gives some insight into a culture so different from our own; where husbands are king and wives and children are subjugated and raised according to the father's whims and beliefs. Thank God for America, I wouldn't last very long over there.....!

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful

    • Overall
    • Performance
    • Story
    • Linda
    • Dumont, NJ, United States
    • 03-28-12

    Could Not Stop Listening!

    Would you listen to Growing Up bin Laden again? Why?

    I would definitely revisit this book in a year or two and recommend it to students studying history.

    What was the most compelling aspect of this narrative?

    Hearing the progression of Osama bin Laden as a man from a prominent family to an extremist who put his goals ahead of everything else in the name of his religion.

    Which scene was your favorite?

    Life on Tora Bora was so descriptive, I felt like I was up on that mountain braving the storms and the snakes. The edge of that mountain was indeed the

    What’s the most interesting tidbit you’ve picked up from this book?

    I enjoyed learning about the Islamic customs and how the 4th son became the closest to Osama bin Laden

    Any additional comments?

    I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to learn more about Osama bin Laden the man.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful

    • Overall
    • Performance
    • Story
    • Anne
    • Redding, Ca, United States
    • 03-27-12

    Bin Laden's Son Speaks

    If you could sum up Growing Up bin Laden in three words, what would they be?

    It changes nothing

    What did you like best about this story?

    The yearning of Omar Bin Laden when he describes his childhood and the relationship with his father touched me. As an adult, the yearning for a father persists despite his ability to look at and judge his father with suprising objectivity.

    What about Mel Foster’s performance did you like?

    The performance was good overall but there were times when I felt as ifI was listening to italics and could not determine if they were the author's or the narrator's

    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    no

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful

    • Overall
    • Performance
    • Story

    One of the best books that I have listened to.

    If you could sum up Growing Up bin Laden in three words, what would they be?

    Captivating.

    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Najwa bin Laden. She is such an insightful, strong woman.

    Which scene was your favorite?

    Najwa bin Laden's joy with the birth of each of her children, and how she supported her children without

    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    I have not come to the 9-11 part yet, but it is refreshing to feel compassion for the family of such an evil man. I haven't cried yet. 45 minutes left to go though.

    Any additional comments?

    This is the 4th book of Jean Sassons that I have read or listen too. She is an excellent writer of others experiences. <br/>The narration of this book is excellent.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful

    • Overall
    • Performance
    • Story

    A must read

    A fascinating account I could not stop listening. Brilliantly narrated the stories of Najwa and Omar are heartbreaking and insightful.

    • Overall
    • Performance
    • Story

    Well this explains it

    What did you like best about Growing Up bin Laden? What did you like least?

    The confirmation of my own opinion of this family. With regard to the actual book itself, nothing.

    What did you like best about this story?

    The explanation of why these people are polluting the earth. Inbred by the constant marrying of first cousins. Cruelty of marrying children to children and then breeding dozens of children for jihad.

    What aspect of Mel Foster’s performance would you have changed?

    nothing

    Any additional comments?

    If you want an explanation of why the world is in the mess it is in then read this. Multiply the bin Laden family by hundreds of thousands and you will have your answer.