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by Adrienne Petterson 2004

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Inside the Kingdom - My Life in Saudi Arabia
by Carmen Bin Ladin
Warner Books
ISBN 0-446-57708-1
Published July 2004 - Hardcover - 206 pages - $23.95

Carmen Bin Ladin is the sister-in-law of Osama Bin Laden and spent time living in the family compound in Saudi Arabia.  Of Swiss/Iranian descent, Carmen met and married Yeslam Bin Laden, one of Osama's many, many brothers.  His father, Sheikh Mohammed, had 22 wives and 54 children and was killed in a plane crash in 1967 en route to marry his 23rd wife.  He had built a fantastically profitable construction company and he and his family became extremely wealthy and revered throughout the land.  Carmen grew up in Switzerland and went to study in America and lived a free life there even after she married Yeslam, the 10th son.  In the late 70s they went to live in Jeddah and she tells, despite the wealth in the Bin Laden family, how meagerly they lived.  Of course, the women wore veils and were covered from head to toe and were not allowed to even cross the street without a chaperone.  Men who were not family members could not look at another woman and were not allowed to even speak to them.  When Iran overthrew the Shah of Iran and all chaos broke out, and Mecca was attacked, and the Soviets invaded Afghanistan, her brother-in-law joined the "struggle".  Although fairly sure that the Bin Laden family could and would secure a safe passage out of the troubled area when the time came, Carmen candidly describes the lives women led which is unbelieveable to most of the western world.  The harsh realities of tradition, subservience, and male dominance that lives on even in these modern times, is hard to imagine or understand.  Carmen and Yeslam separated in 1988 and she worked hard to give her beloved three daughters the freedom they deserved as young women, away from Saudi Arabia.
Conclusion - Honest, reflective, and alarming - it's a must-read. BookBrowser


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