Book Reviews of Stolen Lives : Twenty Years in a Desert Jail

Stolen Lives : Twenty Years in a Desert Jail
Stolen Lives Twenty Years in a Desert Jail
Author: Michele Fitoussi, Malika Oufkir
ISBN-13: 9780786886302
ISBN-10: 0786886307
Publication Date: 2000
Pages: 294
Rating:
  • Currently 3.8/5 Stars.
 143

3.8 stars, based on 143 ratings
Publisher: Hyperion
Book Type: Paperback
Reviews: Amazon | Write a Review

87 Book Reviews submitted by our Members...sorted by voted most helpful

reviewed Stolen Lives : Twenty Years in a Desert Jail on + 3 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 4
Heart-wrenching account of not just being imprisoned for so many years, but also of trying to live again once released. This book haunted me for some time, because it is difficult to believe that such inhumanity and cruelty could occur in this day and age. An excellent, excellent read.
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Helpful Score: 4
I just finished this book and I can't stop thinking about the horrors that go on behind closed doors to innocent people. The worst part, people know about it and do nothing to stop it! Malika did a beautiful job of telling her story. God Bless you, Malika...
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Helpful Score: 3
I truly enjoyed this book from start to finish. The conditions the writer and her family lived in were absolutely frightening. I could put myself into her shoes as I was reading the book.. and felt like crying many times. A must read.
reviewed Stolen Lives : Twenty Years in a Desert Jail on + 48 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 3
Heartbreaking true story of courage and an extraordinary escape after 20 years of cruel incarceration and deprivation. What shines in this novel is a family that survives through their love, faith and strength for one another. Three women and six children are punished and encarcerated through no fault oft their own. A book worth reading for the human spirit element as well as the historical issues and life of the small country of Morocco.
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Helpful Score: 2
Oufkir and her family certainly lived through unimaginably appalling times, imprisoned and virtually forgotten, and the book tells that story. But I quickly grew tired of the author's constant insistence that it was her brains, strength, and ingenuity that pulled her family through the ordeal, and I found her arrogance irritating.
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Helpful Score: 1
A fascinating listen. The reader is perfectly-accented, at least I assume the accent is correct. Her reading surely breathes life into this tragic, at times unbelievable, story of emotional barbarism we probably find hard to believe still exists in our modern world. Too, the contrasts she lived, a pampered child in an opulent palace to starving in a roach and snake filled cell with her family. How do you go from dancing and partying the night away as a teen in Morocco and Paris, to 20 years of absolute squalor and cruelty. Can we in the west imagine jailing toddlers? A lesson for everyone, rich or poor.
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Helpful Score: 1
Because of their Daddy's political decisions, a family of young children, with their Mother, were forced to live emprisoned in filthy conditions in the desert. Their strength, how they kept each other going, how the oldest taught the youngest table manners, culture, etc. during their 15 years away from any other people is truely a story not to be missed. I could barely lay the book down, as it totally holds your attention. I highly recommend this book.
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Helpful Score: 1
I enjoyed reading this book. It tells the story of a girl growing up in Morocco. She is raised in luxury, only to find herself and her family imprisoned for two decades because of her father's political views. They find amazing ways to enhance their lives while living in different prisons and their escape is awesome.
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Helpful Score: 1
This is a very detailed book about the life of Malika Oufkir from her time as an adopted daughter of the king of Morocco, her 20 year imprisonment along with her family by the king, her escape from the horrible life while imprisoned and her "adjustment" back to life out of prison. This book brings the reader much thought about what freedom really means and how it should be apprechiated.
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Helpful Score: 1
From a reviewer at Amazon.com:

"Stolen Lives" needs to be evaluated on two different levels - the moving tale of a family imprisoned under the worst conditions for 20 years and the way this amazing story has been memorialized by Malika Oufkir and Michele Fitoussi. The subject is engrossing and important, but the book itself is not well-written. This accounts for the disparity in ratings that the book has received.

It is fascinating to read about Malika'a unique and frequently heartbreaking life. The eldest daughter of a Morococcan general, she was taken from her family and adopted by the King. Western readers will find the tales of her life in the royal household surprising and enlightening. Not only was the lifestyle outrageously lavish, it was also consisted of customs and traditions that are completely different from our own. Malika was allowed to return to her own family as a young teenager. She only had a few years to get to know her father and enjoy life outside the confines of the palace. Her father before General Oufkir was implicated in a coup attempt against the King and was assassinated. The rest of the family - Malika, her mother, her oldest brother, three young sisters and three year old baby brother were summarily imprisoned. For twenty years they lived in increasingly brutal and inhumane conditions, persecuted by the King for their father's crimes and forgotten by the world. Thanks to their uncommon courage and ingenuity, the family was able to survive and eventually escape. It's not easy to read about many of the horrors and indignities that were heaped upon the Oufkirs, but it's important that the world know about their story.

Unfortunately, the book is not worthy of this amazing story. It was written by Malika with the assistance of Michele Fitoussi. The first problem is that the book does not give sufficient background about either the history of Morrocco or General Oufkir's powerful role as one of the King's chief aides. Those unfamiliar with Moroccan history will frequently find themself at a loss for context. Second, given that this is Malika's first person account, it necessarily is a very one-sided version of history. Not that I doubt her version of events - I just would have preferred a more complete and well-researched book that included not only Malika's story but also those of her siblings. Malika frequently portrays herself as the backbone of the family, the strongest member who kept them all from succumbing to madness. This very likely is true, but it would have a much greater impact coming from someone else. Finally, the writing style is very repetitive and immature. While Michele Fitoussi is very sympathetic to Malika's story and deserves much credit for persuading her to tell her story, I have no doubt that a more objective and skilled writer would have improved the quality of the book immensely. Hopefully a serious scholar will undertake a complete telling of the Oufkir's story. I, for one, will be anxious to read it.
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Helpful Score: 1
What an amazing story. I just sat there with my mouth hanging open while I read this. This poor, poor family. I was just stunned by what I was reading. Wow. I don't want to give anything away. This book definitely made me realize how blessed I've been during my lift. Wow.
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Helpful Score: 1
This book had me so wrapped up in it. I had so much compassion for what this girl went through. It\'s definitely worth a read and you\'ll definitely learn that us Americans are very blessed not to go through what some other people in other countries have to go through...whether it\'s their custom or not. This book was definitely an eye opener for me. This book tells the tale of survival and you\'ll have the utmost respect for Malika.
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Helpful Score: 1
It is hard to even begin to fathom what this family went through, and hard at times to believe that this is a work of non-fiction. The description of the book sounds like a tale from the Arabian nights - a beautiful young girl is taken from her family on the whim of a king to live in his palace and be raised as his daughter. When she grows older she chooses to return home to her family. Several years later, she and her entire family are taken into captivity by the king and are left in a remote desert prison for nearly twenty years. The fact that the members of this family emerged with their emotional health more or less intact is an amazing testament to their strength and determination to survive.
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Helpful Score: 1
Incredible story of a family's 20 year ordeal of being imprisoned in Morocco. The fact that it happened during our lifetime and that the book was written so recently makes it so relevant while hearing her story. The narrator, Edita Brychta is perfect for this reading.
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Helpful Score: 1
This is a fascinating and horrifying true story about the jailing of the eldest daughter of the King of Morocco's closest aide. After spending most of her childhood and adolescence in the seclusion of the King's court harem, she was imprisoned in a penal colony along with five of her siblings and her mother for more than 15 years. This true story is shocking, but told with detail and even some humor. The story will keep you clutching the book, reading intently and anxious to find out how it ends. There is no question that it will hold your attention and leave you wondering how this could have happened in our time, rather than many, many years ago.
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An eye opener! Hard to believe that people could be treated like this. Still harder to believe: How could royals who had led such comfortable lives have the inner strength to adapt to conditions and a twenty-year life style that probably not even animals could survive?
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This was the most wonderful book I have read. I usually find biographies a little boring because they repeat themselves. I counldn't put this book down. This is a true tale of perserverance. You really feel for the author and her family. Awesome book.
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An amazing tale of courage and survival. First Oprah book I've read and actually enjoyed.
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This book is wonderful and is a true story.
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I learned so much about being a woman in the Middle East from reading this well written book.
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This is a mesmerizing book which I just could not put down. Imagine a young girl at 11 sentenced to a harsh prison in Egypt for her fathers political leanings. I loved every page
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Incredible story of injustice and survival. Set in Morocco. Well-read abridged story on 4 cassettes.
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A great memoir. It opened my eyes to the things that go on in the world.
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Definitely worth a listen.
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All I can say is wow-the details she goes into and what her and her family had to go through for 20 years is unbelievable! I won't say anymore in case I give anything away but I can highly recommend this book-I would keep it but I am using it for a game on here-maybe i'll go buy another new copy of it at B&N.....Highly Recommended!
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for such a serious subject matter, this book was actually a pretty quick and easy read. amazingly the author was able to convey her optimism and sense of humour throughout the book - she didn't wallow in self pity or allow the reader to spend too much time feeling sorry for her. i was constantly amazed by her bravery and her ability to survive such horrid conditions.

this is truly one of the best books i have read in a few years.
reviewed Stolen Lives : Twenty Years in a Desert Jail on + 8 more book reviews
great book! it talks about the struggles a family goes through when her father is accused without a trial that he was plotting to kill King Hassan. Some parts brought me to tears on what they had to go through.... partially the amount of years they were in jail. amazing. a must read for everyone... especially those opposing the war in iraq.
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this is a wonderful read up until the end where it looses speed and drags along. but the book is a intriguing story and shows how horrible life in the Middle East can be.particularly to women.
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"Stolen Lives : Twenty Years in a Desert Jail" provided an extraordinary glimpse into the world of human rights abuses and leaves the reader with a deep appreciation for the simple joys that we take for granted. That said, I was not impressed with the writing style or editing.
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This is a book of human triumph through a harsh imprisonment. After her father was executed for attempting to assassinate the King of Morocco, she and her children were imprisioned for two decades. It is so foreign to our world, at times it is difficult to comprehend the events being described. It is a very interesting read.
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Wow, what an amazing story of survival. I had no knowledge of this event before reading the book.
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Wow. This is a remarkable true story of a princess and her family being imprisoned for 20 years. It's an amazing story, but lacks in revealing the true atrocities that surely happened. Me thinks she is too modest in the telling of the tale - or too proud - or raised in a different world than the good ole USA.
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What an amazing tale. Hard to believe what happens in some countries.
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Quite an interesting read. Some of it sounds pretty "fantastic", and there are some unanswered questions, but it is well worth the read.
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Compelling story
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Hard to put this book down. Makes you appreciate your day to day life and things we take for granted.

Marty P.
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Excellent reading about the horrors of a whole family's captivity due to political reasons, and the horrible things that they went through. God bless them.
reviewed Stolen Lives : Twenty Years in a Desert Jail on
A radical transition from palace luxury to austere poverty, this true story describes what happens when people come into power and use it inappropriately. As a result of such misuse, the Oufkir family endured punishment for the deeds of someone else (the father). As the Middle East continues to broil, there's no doubt that this morbid activity is ongoing and others are suffering similar fates as well. I'm surprised that any of the family emerged from their 2-decade imprisonment with their sanity intact. A remarkable read and one to be remembered long after the last page is turned. (I don't know why the red circle accompanies this review; I didn't put it there and can't get rid of it.) This book should be read by everyone who values freedom.
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This book was awesome. It was heart wrenching and triumphant!!! I loved reading it.
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I don't often read non-fiction memoirs. I am SO glad I tried this one. I can't believe I have no memory of this story in the media - I was young, but over the 20 years I was in college, thinking myself very informed. This book really sheds light on being female in this part of the world, and boy, am I glad I am an American! The daily life of royalty is unbelievable and their traditions and customs are fascinating. Then for this poor girl and her family to go from a postion of power, happiness and comfort to deplorable conditions almost overnight - you felt like you were right there beside her the whole way. And you can't stop thinking - they REALLY DO this to women and children for no other reason but spite?
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Interesting true life account of a family that was imprisoned for 20 years for the crime(s) of the husband/father.
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Very insightful look at this woman's story. Well written and very easy to read.
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a very touching heartfelt story . a very good read.
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Wow, what a story of survival and strength. An interesting read.
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An astonishing story of survival.
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Gripping memoir.
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This was an interesting book. I'm not really into biographies but this one was pretty riveting.
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I really enjoyed reading this book, and I learned many interesting things.
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An unbelievable story which puts our daily problems into a different perspective
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Delivers what it promises. The story of 20 years in a desert jail. Not only is it a great tale of heroism and endurance under the worst conditions. It is a valuable resource for learning about Moroccan culture and the role the monarchy plays in it.
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Great book. I couldn't put it down!
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I was left in awe of the inner resources that enabled this young woman to endure her imprisonment and even to look after her family under such conditions. If you want to know how she made out after becoming free, there is a sequel to this book, not so gripping, but worth reading, anyway.
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Wonderful and gutwrenching book,
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A heart-rending account of resilience, courage and even humor with which one family faced their formented fate. Malika Oufkir spent virtually her whole adult life as a prisoner in Morocco. This gripping true account of that time should be required reading for all.
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To go from the life of luxury she led to living in squalor must have been frightening for Malika and I was glad to read at the end that she was free and safe. I wonder what kind of mentality puts a family into the such conditions just because they knew the former ruler. Why not just exile them and leave it at that. Oh well, the story was interesting.
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One of my all time favorite books. Should be required reading for all High Schools.
The human spirit is capable of so much more than many of us know which is shown by
this family and in this book!
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A gripping, heart-wrenching book memoir of one woman's imprisonment in a Moroccan jail - a political prisoner. The resilience and courage that she exhibited is a tale that will long live with you.
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What a wonderful family, I could not put this book down, it would be a great book for a book group to read. The inhumanity of what this wonderful family had to go through in our century of living no less
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This was a really interesting book! it's hard to believe that this is a true story.
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A remarkable true story that will have you pondering life. I was going to my first concert when this woman (a young girl at the time) was in prison with her family. Its heartbreaking and inspiring at the same time. Everyone should read it.
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this was a very moving book..i am amazed at all of the things this family had to go thru.
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Excellent true story of a family imprisoned for 18 years. Heartwrenching detail of the suffering endured - the sins of the father visited upon the children.
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this was an incredible story..quite a woman..it was hard to put down..
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Loved it. I wish I could send her a letter! What a life, and this is a pretty detailed account of it. I had a hard time putting it down.
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This was one of those books where you had better forget about doing anything else on your "to do" list.
It captured me from the first page to the last.
A quick read and totally captivating.
Also very revealing about the life of the privileged in Morocco.
How naive I was...and how disappointed I am about the inner workings of the leadership.
reviewed Stolen Lives : Twenty Years in a Desert Jail on
This is an amazing story about survival and personal growth in the midst of a horrible and complex experience. What kept me enrapt was her personal voice, what kept me in tears was the realization that millions of Malika's and their loved ones are currently wasting away in prisons like hers today in this moment and wondering who is raising the bell.
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I found this book to be absolutely gripping. I would wake up at night with the names of those affected swirling through my head. We hear how these situations of human suffering occur, even in 20th and 21st centuries, but this book really brings it to light. I haven't had a book affect me in this way in a long, long time. I won't take my living in the US for granted ever again. This is a must read.
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Stolen Lives is one of those books that amaze and astound you. This is a book I won't list in PBS because it is a "keeper", a book to passed on to new generations, particularly girls and women. diane
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This is an amazing true story! If you read this you should also read the second one she wrote. This one really stayed with me.
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Excellent concise summary of a fairy tale life as the princess of Morocco's adopted sister. Then her father participated in a coup and was executed. She and her mother and siblings were banished to the desert in extremely harsh, inhuman conditions. The King of Morocco was trying to kill them off "naturally". It's amazing any of them survived...solitary confinement, harsh weather extremes, little food. They even chopped down the trees and flowers around the prison so there was nothing to see or give hope. This book speaks loudly for the still existing repressive Middle Eastern governments that don't take human rights seriously. Medieval torture is still alive and well in Morocco...
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I was interested in this true account, mainly because I just returned from a trip to Morocco. It was a fascinating look at the power and politics of the previous king of Morocco, and a heartbreaking story of young lives dangerously close to being snuffed out. The present king, Mohammed VI, has initiated an improvement in human rights, but this nightmare did occur from 1972-1992. HIghly recommended
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At first I had difficulty getting into the book, as I feel that the translation could be better. The English used is many time foreign to me, as it uses words I am not accustomed to. But as I got into the story I became totally involved and in awe of this woman's resilience. I was in Morocco in 1999 and loved the country; but had no idea of what had gone on there politically.
A wonderful book on the strength of the human spirit. Highly recomment it!
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There is no doubt that Malika Oufkir and her family suffered inhumane treatment - but the telling of her story drips of arrogance and reeks of a spoiled little girl! Vietnam Veterans, locked up for decades, were not once offered the freedom to order coats, shoes, cloths, food - anyting they wanted. for the ENTIRIY of their imprisonment - for some, just as long as Ms. Oufkir & family. I got tired of hearing Malika claim that she was the brains and backbone of their survivial, as well... not to mention, she dwelled on her "imprisonment" and spent a mere paragraph hinting at her actual freedom. This book oozes "poor pitiful me", and I found it to be rather annoying.
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Excellent read. You wonder how many people/families have vanished via this method. Never heard from again.
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This story needs to be told but I found it to soft to be a documentary and to hard to be a novel.
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Malika and her family were imprisoned in a penal colony because her father attempted to assassinate the King. They endured twenty years of imprisonment.
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Great Book. Very inciteful.
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excellent book from Oprahs book club! very heart wrenching!
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A REALLY WONDERFUL BOOK THAT WILL STAY WITH YOU LONG AFTER YOU READ IT!
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A true story about how a woman was able to survive twenty years stolen from her in the most cruel ways. A survivors story. Thank goodness groups like Amnesty International watches countries to report about abuses.
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Publishers Weekly Review...

While accounts of the unjust arrest and torture of political prisoners are by now common, we expect such victims to come with a just cause. Here, Oufkir tells of the 20-year imprisonment of her upper-class Moroccan family following a 1972 coup attempt against King Hassan II by her father, a close military aide. After her father's execution, Oufkir, her mother and five siblings were carted off to a series of desert barracks, along with their books, toys and French designer clothes in the family's Vuitton luggage. At their first posting, they complained that they were short on butter and sweets. Over the years, subsequent placements brought isolation cells and inadequate, vermin-infested rations. Finally, starving and suicidal, the innocents realized they had been left to die. They dug a tunnel and escaped. Recapture led to another five years of various forms of imprisonment before the family was finally granted freedom. Oufkir's experience does not fit easily into current perceptions of political prisoners victimized for their beliefs or actions. In fact, she was the adopted daughter of King Muhammad V, Hassan II's father, sent by her parents at age five to be raised in the court with the king's daughter as her companion and equal. Beyond horrifying images such as mice nibbling at a rich girl's face, this erstwhile princess's memoir will fascinate readers with its singular tale of two kindly fathers, political struggles in a strict monarchy and a family's survival of cruel, prolonged deprivation.

I personally LOVED this book! It held my interest and it was facinating and almost unbelieveable what Malika went through for 20 years!
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Amazon.com
At the age of 5, Malika Oufkir, eldest daughter of General Oufkir, was adopted by King Muhammad V of Morocco and sent to live in the palace as part of the royal court. There she led a life of unimaginable privilege and luxury alongside the king's own daughter. King Hassan II ascended the throne following Muhammad V's death, and in 1972 General Oufkir was found guilty of treason after staging a coup against the new regime, and was summarily executed. Immediately afterward, Malika, her mother, and her five siblings were arrested and imprisoned, despite having no prior knowledge of the coup attempt.
They were first held in an abandoned fort, where they ate moderately well and were allowed to keep some of their fine clothing and books. Conditions steadily deteriorated, and the family was eventually transferred to a remote desert prison, where they suffered a decade of solitary confinement, torture, starvation, and the complete absence of sunlight. Oufkir's horrifying descriptions of the conditions are mesmerizing, particularly when contrasted with her earlier life in the royal court, and many graphic images will long haunt readers. Finally, teetering on the edge of madness and aware that they had been left to die, Oufkir and her siblings managed to tunnel out using their bare hands and teaspoons, only to be caught days later. Her account of their final flight to freedom makes for breathtaking reading. Stolen Lives is a remarkable book of unfathomable deprivation and the power of the human will to survive.
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This is a really good book.
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Malika Oufkir has spent virtually her whole life as a prisoner. Born in 1953, the eldest daughter of General Oufkir, the King of Morocco's closest aide, Malika was adopted by the King at the age of five, and was brought up as the companion to his little daughter. Spending most of her childhood and adolescence in the seclusion of the court harem, Malika was one of the most eligible heiresses in the kingdom, surrounded by luxury and extraordinary privilege.

Then on August 16th, 1972, her father was arrested and executed after an attempt to assassinate the King. Malika, her five siblings, and her mother were immediately imprisoned in a penal colony. After fifteen years, the last ten of which they spent locked up in solitary cells, the Oufkir children managed to dig a tunnel with their bare hands and make a daring escape ... though they were recaptured after only five days of freedom. Malika was finally able to leave Morocco and begin a new life in exile in 1996.

Stolen Lives is a heart-rending account of resilience in the face of extreme deprivation, of the courage and even humor with which one family faced their tormented fate. A shocking true story, it is hard to comprehend that it could have happened in our own times.

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Good book, quick read. Some tears on the book sleeve.
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Great condition.
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SORRY HAVEN'T READ THIS ONE, WAS GIVEN TO ME NEVER GOT AROUND TO IT,SO I'M PASSING IT ON!