So heart wrenching it was hard to read every word at times. As other reviewers before me wrote, "I am glad to live in the USA"! Jean Sasson is very meticulous in her research and ultimately in her writings. So much detail, with strong descriptions. I felt like I was in the cell with Mayada. I read a series by Jean Sasson before reading this book, and was not disappointed in "Mayada". It is always good to read about other cultures, and what people do to just survive.
This is a heartbreaking true story about Mayada and her imprisonment in cell 52. She speaks about the terrible, unjust imprisonment and torture of men and women and how she and the other prisoners cope with the "horror of it all". She speaks of her life before Saddam and also of the terrors inflicted on Iraqi citizens while he was in power.
I could not put this book down. It is very powerful reading. This book is very graphic and it really makes me thankful that I live in the United States of America.
Mayada tells an excellent story of the horrors of the Saddam Hussein regime and the aftermath of his rule. She offers a first-hand account of her privileged life and some of the experiences of the Shadow Women, who shared the same cell Mayada was thrown into. The reason I didnt give it a full star rating was because I felt the frequent descriptions of Mayada's fortunate background blurred the fundamental issues of what was going in the Baladiyat Prison. Also the first ¾'s of the book was heartbreaking and troubling but the last ¼ fell apart for me, I thought it was rushed and lacked a compassionate crusade to get those women out. I was disappointed not to see some sort of follow up on any of the Shadow Women who, unlike Mayada, suffered unbelievable sadist torture in that prison. I understand that this book was about one women (Mayada) and her life but this book would not have existed if not for the Shadow Women who nurtured and cared for each other. I believe that the author should give them the due respect of following up and finding out what happened to them and their families.
I have enjoyed both books written by Jean Sasson, that I have read.. I enjoyed the immense detail and heartfelt writting of this author for this book!! I highly recommend this book for anyone who is interested in what is was like in Iraq for women and many others while Saddam Hussein was ruling..
from the back page cover:
That first night in Baladiyat cleared Mayada's mind about Iraq, and she promised herself that if she got out of prison alive, she would pause no longer than it took to pack a bag and grab her children. She would leave her home and her country and never return, even if she had to stand on the street corners of Amman and beg. She stared for a moment at the three guards questioning her and wondered what they might say if they knew she had Saddam's private telephone number, but she quickly dismissed the idea of placing such a call, for the small pad where she kept his number was hidden in a secret place in her home....
I could not put this book down! It so sad to see what other women go thru in their countries. Very interesting to hear how this woman came from a well known and respected family, yet still ended up in prison.
When you are thinking your life is not where you want it to be.... read this book and feel fortunate for who you are and where you live. A real reality check. Very well written and heart-wrenchingly true. Life under Saddam Hussein must have been unbearable!
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.