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Because Each Life Is Precious: Why an Iraqi Man Risked Everything for Private Jessica Lynch [Hardcover]

Mohammed Odeh Al-Rehaief , Mohammed Odeh Rehaief , Mohammed Odeh Al-Rehaief
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Oct. 30 2003

For thirty-three-year-old Mohammed al-Rehaief, this decision -- whether to risk his life and everything he held dear to save Private First Class Jessica Lynch, an American soldier he did not know -- was more than the everyday reckoning with death that permeates wartime. It was the culmination of a life spent at odds with the repressive regime that held his country.

Mohammed's story is the tale of what it was like to come of age in a society where violence and betrayal were everyday events, where one in five adult males worked for the state's security apparatus, where a president-for-life demanded absolute loyalty and adulation. Despite his affluent upbringing and a well-connected uncle, Mohammed was hardly sheltered from the surreal cruelties of Iraq. He was arrested and beaten for owning a satellite dish. His young daughter lost a lung to misdiagnosis and unnecessary surgery. An idolized cousin was hanged for joining an Islamic political group. A favorite teacher was carted away for making subversive statements and was never seen again.

Yet even as he navigates a culture tarnished by brutality and corruption, Mohammed also reveals unexpected sides of Iraq, scenes of surprising tenderness and stubborn generosity. He writes with insight and humor about the Iraqi schools, the vagaries of its divorce law, the poignant dynamic between its fathers and sons -- between tradition and jolting change.

As Mohammed offers his powerful perspective on themost publicized story of this controversial war, he emerges as an unlikely hero, a complex and charming character whose values transcend ideology: honor, compassion, and an unshakable belief in the sanctity of human life.

Product Details

Product Description


“Genuinely riveting.” (Newsweek)

“A remarkable story.” (Wall Street Journal)

About the Author

Mohammed Odeh al-Rehaif is a 33-year-old Iraqi attorney who plunged into the middle of the biggest story of the recent war in Iraq: the rescue of Pvt. Jessica Lynch. Granted asylum in the U.S. in April for his extraordinary act of courage, Mohammed is now employed by The Livingston Group, a lobbying firm in Washington, DC. He resides outside the city with his wife, Iman, and their six-year-old daughter, Abir.

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspiring Jan. 9 2004
I was drawn to this book by the cover and that's often such a misleading reason to buy a book but I did anyway - and was captivated by this story. The story of Mohammed's life in Iraq before Sadam Hussein was driven from power gives us insight into just how oppressive the Baathist regime was to the people of Iraq. Mohammed survives an incredible ordeal during the peak of U.S. military action in Iraq to lead American soldiers to the hospital where Jessica Lynch was being held. He loses one eye to shrapnel from a rocket and still has no regrets.
The humble and precise title answers the question "why would this Iraqi man named Mohammed risk his life and his family's life for someone he didn't even know"? Why risk capture and certain death by the Fedayeen who watched his suspicious activity so carefully?
I so loved this story because human to human there is more to bind us than separate us. Where few Islamic extremists have given us fear of muslims, this wonderful story offers us the real insight into the core teachings of the Koran....... each life is precious.
Read this and savor it for it's humanity at it's worst and best all woven into one series of truly heroic events.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Stranger Than Fiction Nov. 23 2003
Being a Shiite Moslem, Mr. Mohammed Odeh Al-Rehaief has been a first-hand witness to savagery throughout his life. In his home city of Nasiriya, he had been an attorney, and was a wealthy man whose extended family owned properties and businesses. Yet, this did not shield him from the corruption and brutality of Saddam Hussein's Iraq.
Who would ever have imagined that an Iraqi citizen would knowingly risk losing everything, including his own life and the lives of his family, in order to save one soldier; a soldier whose country was then engaged in bombing his city to pieces. Here, however, we are forced to believe it, simply because we know that it is true.
It has been pointed out that Mr. Al-Rehaief is given but brief mention in her own book, but the fact is that Pfc Jessica Lynch does express that she will be forever grateful to him. That she does not recall the events as he describes them should come as no surprise, since she was barely conscious of anything except pain during her captivity. By Pfc Lynch's own admission, it is unlikely that she would be alive today if it had not been for the efforts of this Iraqi civilian, and his success in reaching the US Marines, stationed outside the city as they continued their attack.
Maybe it is through his family that we can glean some insight into the character of Mr. Al-Rehaief and where his strong moral values originate: As the book ends, the rest of his family, headed by his father, the son of a sheikh, are waiting in international limbo, not knowing what will happen to them next. They have lost everything. Yet I detect no sentiment of regret, complaint or accusation in their descriptions of the hardships caused by the loss of their entire way of life. Such unselfishness seems unfathomable, but again we are forced to believe it, simply because it is true.
Who among us...?
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Hero Of Our Time! Nov. 16 2003
George Bush should buy up copies of this book by the dozens and and distribute them as he goes around the country raising money for his re-election campaign. Mohammed al-Rehaief in 212 pages does more to make the case that the U. S. should have invaded Iraq than all the rhetoric that continues to pour out of Washington. Simply put, Mr. al-Rehaief is a hero if risking your life and the lives of your family to save a total stranger defines a hero.
In addition to giving us the details of Mr. al-Rehaief's part in saving Jessica Lynch, a story that has all in's and out's of any first-rate suspense novel, roughly a third of the book is about the author's life before Jessica Lynch--his childhood, adolescence, marriage, his hatred of the Saddam Hussein dictatorship. "In adolescence I grew more subversive. I'd make fun of Saddam's crooked mouth, mimicking him before my friends. Or we'd find an empty classroom at recess, load spitballs onto rubber bands, and fire away at the president's picture." Always known as a "long tongue," the author was always getting both himself and his family in trouble. A thirty-three-year-old Shiite from Nasiriya, Mr. al-Rehaief is an expert in kung fu, a skill that saved his life on more than one occasion. Though trained a a lawyer he no longer practiced as he says in a country where there is no law. Although from an affluent family, the author learned early on from his beloved father that "there is no shame in being poor" and "each life is precious." Mr. al-Rehaief is a very fluent storyteller with a good sense of humor. While a Muslim, he is not a fanatical fundamentalist and admits that he has never been able to fast an entire month for Ramadan. In a word, he's someone you'd want to invite to a dinner party.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A hero with a big heart Nov. 11 2003
By A Customer
Often times it happens that heroes are born when an ordinary person performs an extraordinary act of bravery as a gut reaction, without even thinking about it. Such was NOT the case with Mohammed al-Rehaief. This brave man had dozens of opportunities to think about the enormity of the task in front of him and the extreme dangers he faced. Yet he never wavered. With fedayeen and Baathists in pursuit, neighborhood informants watching him, and American bombs dropping all around him, Mohammed diligently collected the information needed to save a soldier's life and brought it across enemy lines - not once but three times! Knowing that the bombs were coming and having seen and experienced first-hand the hideous atrocities perpetrated by Saddam's regime against those who dare defy it, he could justifiably have turned back at any point and told himself that he had done enough, that he had given it his best. But his deeply ingrained compassion and conviction stayed him the course.
The book tells the whole amazing story, along with a vivid description of life (and death) in Saddam's Iraq. For such a heavy subject matter, the writing style is easy and casual and even manages a few glimpses of humor.
Mohammed claims that as a boy he idolized John Wayne as "a hero with a big heart", but the real hero with the big heart is Mohammed al-Rehaief. Welcome to America, Mohammed. May you and your family find peace, freedom and prosperity here. And may your country find the same.
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Engaging read
So many reviews seem to center around whether the events were true or not or with they agree with Lynch's account. Read more
Published on May 31 2004
5.0 out of 5 stars Destined To Be a Classic
This book is destined to be a classic, in several genres. If you start reading it, be sure you can afford the time to read it all the way through -- it's hard to set down. Read more
Published on Nov. 26 2003 by D. Fafarman
5.0 out of 5 stars Very compelling story and excellent read
Fasciating and beautifully written story about a real hero Mohammed Odeh al-Rehaief, who put his life and the life of his family in tremendous jeopardy to save the life of an... Read more
Published on Nov. 20 2003 by nilda del ciello
5.0 out of 5 stars because every life is precious
Wonderful book and it gives you hope that everyone in the world is not evil. That there are still those who care about others. Read more
Published on Nov. 15 2003
5.0 out of 5 stars The truth
Mohammed's account, of course, is verified by many eyewitnesses. The only part that can't be verified by eyewitnesses is where he said he saw Ms. Lynch slapped. Read more
Published on Nov. 15 2003
1.0 out of 5 stars Big Fat Liar
If you have seen the recent interview of Jessica Lynch by Diane Sawyer....you will realize that Mohammed is a downright LIAR and has fabricated his story to make himself out to be... Read more
Published on Nov. 13 2003 by Bixbey
4.0 out of 5 stars Surprisingly good book
I read this book in a couple of sittings because it was surprisingly good. I liked finding out about life in Iraq through this good man's life. Read more
Published on Nov. 12 2003 by Jean Bennett
4.0 out of 5 stars Much better than expected
I bought this book figuring the author did something profoundly decent and it wouldn't kill me to boost his income in way of thanks. It turned out to be a surprisingly good book. Read more
Published on Nov. 12 2003 by B. L. Vakos
5.0 out of 5 stars The real hero
This man is the real hero. Jessica should be grateful for his courage. This book is a thoughtful, easy read.
Published on Nov. 11 2003
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