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Mayada, Daughter of Iraq: One Woman's Survival Under Saddam Hussein [Paperback]

Jean Sasson
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Sept. 6 2004
A member of one of the most distinguished and honored families in Iraq, Mayada grew up surrounded by wealth and royalty. But when Saddam Hussein’s regime took power, she was thrown into cell 52 in the infamous Baladiyat prison with seventeen other nameless, faceless women from all walks of life. To ease their suffering, these “shadow women” passed each day by sharing their life stories. Now, through Jean Sasson, Mayada is finally able to tell her story—and theirs—to the world.

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Mayada, Daughter of Iraq: One Woman's Survival Under Saddam Hussein + Princess: A True Story of Life Behind the Veil in Saudi Arab + Princess Sultana's Circle
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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

When author Sasson (Esther's Child; Princess Sultana's Circle; etc.) was assigned Mayada Al-Askari as a translator on a 1998 trip to Baghdad, she had no idea she would form a lasting friendship with this fluent English-speaker and member of a prominent Iraqi family. When Sasson returned to the United States, the two women wrote letters and telephoned each other weekly until, in 1999, Mayada was arrested by Saddam Hussein's secret police for allegedly printing anti-regime pamphlets in her Baghdad print shop and imprisoned for nearly a month in Iraq's brutal Baladiyat Prison. Sasson's candid, straightforward account of Mayada's time among the 17 "shadow women" crammed into Cell 52 gives readers a glimpse of the cruelty and hardship endured by generations of Iraqis. Mayada stares down this ugliness as soon as she's yanked from her meticulously run shop into the prison's interrogation room: "She saw chairs with bindings, tables stacked high with various instruments of torture.... But the most frightening pieces of... equipment were the various hooks that dangled from the ceiling. When Mayada glanced to the floor beneath those hooks, she saw splashes of fresh blood, which she supposed were left over from the torture sessions she had heard during the night." Sasson's graceful handling of such stomach-turning material, including an overview of Iraq's political and social turmoil, is a tribute to her friend, who escaped to Jordan with her children soon after her release from prison. Although Mayada's story has a happy ending, the unclear fates of her cell mates serve as a painful reminder of how many innocent lives were cut short by Hussein's regime.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Sasson, author of Princess: A True Story of Life behind the Veil in Saudi Arabia (1992), first met Mayada in 1998. A year later, Mayada, granddaughter of a revered Iraqi hero who fought with Lawrence of Arabia, a former journalist, modern businesswoman, and the mother of two children, was arrested and imprisoned on allegations that her business was printing antigovernment flyers. Sasson relates Mayada's imprisonment with 17 "shadow women," similarly falsely accused and imprisoned and subjected to torture and cruelty under the regime of Saddam Hussein. To distract themselves, the women tell each other stories of their lives, and Mayada discloses her high-born, privileged lifestyle even though her family were not members of the leading Baath Party. She recalls her mother's acquaintance with Hussein's wife and their mutual dislike. Mayada also tells of interviews with the cruel and erratic Ali Hassan al-Majid, Hussein's cousin and the man who would become known as Chemical Ali. This is a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at the cruelties suffered by the Iraqis under Hussein. Vanessa Bush
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
At about 8:45 on the morning of JuIy 19, 1999, Mayada Al-Askari was driving to her office at full speed. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars There's something missing Sept. 1 2007
When it comes to autobiographical or biographical books, like this one, and the events recounted are mainly dramatic and very sad, the impulse is to rate it with 5 stars. However, I find that this particular book, or rather, its narrative, seems to be lacking that something or other which would put the whole story into a more tangible perspective. Of course one cannot but sympathise with Mayada and all the "shadow women" and what they went through (imprisonment and torture in Iraq).

However this time, and unlike some previous work I read by the same author, I felt that this book lacks in substance a bit, some points have not been explained clearly and, in my opinion, the frequent descriptions of Mayada's fortunate background blur some more fundamental issues.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Jean Sasson is an editorial genius Nov. 8 2003
I purchased this book as soon as it was published because I have read the Princess books by Jean Sasson and already knew that she was an editorial genius.
The book is about the title-character, Mayada. She came from a prominent Iraqi family. Mayada owned and managed a printing shop. And under the harsh rule of Saddam Hussein she was accused of breaking the law and thrown in jail.
Mayada's basic human rights were violated while she was in jail. She met several women in her jail cell, the shadow women as they are called. They shadow women are all so brave and harrowing. Each shadow women has her own story of despair; one worse than the next.
The fate of the shadow women is unknown, but if you read this book you will find out what happens to Mayada.
Mayada is probably Ms. Sasson's best work to date. It is thought-provoking, intense and written in great detail.
I hope that Ms. Sasson will write a follow-up story to Mayada. For more information about Jean Sasson and her books please visit her website: [...] and if you're interested in human rights please visit [...]
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An absolute MUST read!!! Nov. 6 2003
I was against the war in Iraq in 2003 but after reading Jean Sasson's excellent book, I wrote a letter to President Bush stating that for the liberation of the Iraqi people alone from Saddam Hussein, it was worth it. Jean Sasson does a marvelous job blending Iraqi history with the Hussein regime and the life of Mayada. This book about Mayada's life opened my mind to see how evil Hussein was and how he ruled Iraq with an iron fist. Both Jean Sasson and Mayada are brave women who deserve big kudos for getting the horrible truth out about one of the most despicable dictators in modern times. This book is worth every penny for the eye-opening aspect alone, but the book is written so eloquently that it truly is one of those books that you can't put down. I finished the book in a little over one day. I highly recommend this book for those who were against the war because like me, it made me realize that the liberation of an entire country from true evil is just simply the right thing to do. Jean Sasson and Mayada are true heroes in my book!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Journalist's Perspective Oct. 26 2003
Like everyone else who keeps up with news reports on what's happening in Iraq, I was bamboozled by the search for weapons of mass destruction, disappointed by the lack of results and second-guessing the choice we Americans made to interfere in the sovereign rights of a member of the United Nations.
Then I was lucky enough as a journalist to meet Mayada...after I read Jean Sasson's book about her life.
Sasson depicts Mayada in the book as a true gentlewoman who traces her lineage back to remarkable gentlemen and women of the educated elite in the part of the world where civilization first emerged. In person, she proved to be that bright and gentle woman.
Mayada, through the book and in person, is an excellent spokesman for the injustices of the just-ousted regime in Iraq, for the justice represented by our unilateral action in Iraq and for the promise of a democratic stronghold in the Middle East.
After reading the book, even as a seasoned journalist, I have a different frame of reference when I hear, see or read the sensational reports intimating that our U.S. actions were or are based on eroneous grounds.
Mayada - a jounalist herself - calls it "a good thing." Knowing her story now, I agree. Read the book and you'll watch history unfold from the viewpoint of someone who has been there.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book May 8 2004
By Torik
Mayada has to be one of 2004 top reads. Exploring the jail cells and treatmeant of Iraqians Mayada is a very touching story which will fill your heart with different emotions. Jean Sasson has yet again conjoured a wonder of a book. The book is put together so well and it even has a glossary if you dont understand the words. Mayada has all the cons of the Iraqian government and what Saddam and the government used to do (Uday who is saddams son used to let go of a tiger at busy restaraunts). Bizarre! Its starts off with Mayada, a newspaper journalist being imprisoned at Baladiyat where the guards torture people for days on and even killing them in the process (RIP JAMILA). She was imprisoned for accusations of herosy. This book is well put together but some parts seem fake and untrue and the ending wasn't good enough considering it had such a good story. So in all the only major con of this book is the bad ending(which cost it a star)
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great read !!!
Published 1 month ago by Ena Fudge
5.0 out of 5 stars This gave insight into what life was like under Hussein's reign of...
This gave insight into what life was like under Hussein's reign of terror. We have no idea how lucky we are to be able to walk free and have an opinion and a voice on any topic we... Read more
Published 2 months ago by anniegale
4.0 out of 5 stars Painfull read
I read this book in a few days. Very interesting but sometimes a painful read. Incredible how the people of Iraq suffered. Highly recommended.
Published on Jan. 10 2011 by Deb & Noel
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent
Jean Sasson has given a voice to one of the most oppressed groups in the world today - Arab women. First with Princess and now with Mayada. Read more
Published on July 6 2004
5.0 out of 5 stars Another wonderful book by Sasson
As a huge fan of Jean Sasson, I keenly anticipated the release of Mayada, Daughter of Iraq. It was definitely worth the wait. Read more
Published on June 4 2004 by mariya ali
5.0 out of 5 stars A Very Timely Page Turner
MAYADA, DAUGHTER OF IRAQ: ONE WOMEN'S SURVIVAL UNDER SADDAM HUSSEIN, is yet another page turner by Jean Sasson. Read more
Published on April 2 2004 by Blair Spurney-Rogers
5.0 out of 5 stars Facts
Other reviews of this book may lead you to believe that it leans one way or the other on whether we should have gone to war with Iraq. Read more
Published on March 23 2004 by Beth
5.0 out of 5 stars A Shocking Must-Read
After reading the Princess Sultana Trilogy and developing a keen interest in the lives of Middle-Eastern women I knew I had to read Mayada's story. I could not put the book down. Read more
Published on March 7 2004 by Leah Christensen
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing
Well written book that will keep you glued. Sasson documents, through Mayada, just how much evil man is capable of. Read more
Published on Feb. 4 2004 by J. Rizzardi
5.0 out of 5 stars WOMEN OF STRENGTH
Dear Ms. Sasson and Americans looking for the truth,
My name is Sarah and I am 21 years old. I am Christian born in Connecticut and my parents are Lebanese. Read more
Published on Jan. 14 2004 by SARAH
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