"Apart from anything Bin Laden's wives may have to say that might be useful to intelligence officers..., there is also a powerful natural curiosity about the women and their children: What was it like to live with the founder of Al Qaeda, to call him husband or father? As with Hitler or Pol Pot, you want to understand whether his bizarre combination of grandiosity and viciousness carried over to domestic life — in Bin Laden's case, whether he perhaps was an eerily ordinary parent, complaining about what was for dinner, nagging the kids about their homework....
The most vivid look the American public has had at Bin Laden's family life is from a 2009 memoir by his son Omar bin Laden and Omar's mother, Najwa bin Laden. They wrote 'Growing Up bin Laden' with the assistance of Jean Sasson, an American writer. The book includes what may be the most complete account available of the terrorist's immediate family."
"Fascinating. . . . Together, Najwa and Omar provide an intimate account of a family life that became steadily more dangerous and bizarre. . . . From affluence and comfort in Jeddah they were reduced to penury and privation in Afghanistan, all the wives and their many children living without electricity, running water, or even real beds, in forced pursuit of Osama's jihadist dreams."
"Absolutely riveting and profoundly sad..." —People magazine
More praise for GROWING UP BIN LADEN:
"A critical missing corner piece of the Osama bin Laden puzzle, filled with astonishing secrets. With Jean Sasson's expert help, Najwa and Omar must have dug deep in their anguished souls to find the courage to bring us these never-before-told revelations about the seeds of Osama bin Laden's extremism."
"Growing Up bin Laden opens up a rare window into a hidden culture, giving the reader much to contemplate...A fascinating example of how, in a family sharing genes and environment, fathers and sons emerge with different life missions. Osama, a compassionate and fun-loving young boy, becomes today's most sought-after terrorist. Omar, raised in a world of violence, longs for peace. This is an unforgettable story."
"Fascinating! Worth far more than dozens of intelligence reports, this enthralling portrait of Osama bin Laden, sharply drawn by his senior wife and favoured son, captures as no other work has done—or could do—the degeneration of the world's most notorious terrorist from a loving, if stern, teenage husband to a fanatic who covered his cherished faith in blood. Skillfully framed by Middle East authority Jean Sasson, this book will grip you, make you shudder, and leave you better informed than presidents and generals have been."
"Always interesting and highly readable, this is recommended for the many people who will wish to learn more about this man."
Praise for PRINCESS:
"A chilling story...a vivid account of an air-conditioned nightmare..."
"Must-reading for anyone interested in human rights."
"Shocking...candid...sad, sobering, and compassionate..."
"The startling truth behind veiled lives...frank and vivid"
"Anyone with the slightest interest in human rights will find this book heart-wrenching."