Re: Carmen bin Laden-book review
- Dear Winty,
I will definitely read this book, thank you for sharing.
It looks really interesting. I like anything that has to do with
the mixed theme, even more so if it deals with a strong woman.
From a historical point of view, it's also a great book to read.
--- In Generation-Mixed@yahoogroups.com, wintyreeve@a... wrote:
A book I highly recommend "Inside the Kingdom:
My Life in Saudi Arabia" by Carmen bin Laden.
Carmen bin Laden is a woman whose life is a dance
between two cultures, two contrasting world views.
Carmen's mother was born into an aristocratic Persian family,
and ran off to Paris to elope with a man from Switzerland.
Carmen's mother was raised as Muslim but so loosely
practised the religion that her daughters did not
have to wear a veil and on Christmas, the girls
were allowed to open gifts under a Christmas tree.
Carmen was raised in Switzerland, in a Western world.
However, Carmen spent much of her childhood in Persia; and her
values and identity are deeply rooted in Middle Eastern traditions.
Carmen's attachment to Persia was disrupted by two events.
First, her father left the family and to save face,
her mother began to separate from the family.
Second, Persia is taken over by the Shah, who uses the SAVAK
(secret police) to brutalize the people into submission.
Around these events, Carmen's book centers on a core theme
that begins early in her life--Carmen's journey to define,
and create her identity as a racially mixed woman who
embraces both the Middle Eastern and Western worlds.
The struggle, and tension of the book largely involves the struggles
of misunderstanding, pride, and bigotry that causes a divide between
Westerners and Middle Easterners--perpetuated by both sides.
While these differences could be overcome, could be
dealt with in a constructive way--taken in the hands
of an extremist or a fundmentalist religion
(In the Kingdom discusses Wahabism) they become powerful tools,
winching a divide fueled by hatred, violence, and beliefs
so deeply embedded that it becomes difficult to change.
In Switzerland, Carmen meets Yeslam bin Laden, a handsome Saudi coming
from a well-known, aristocratic family with ties to the royal family
(Yeslam is the brother of Osama, his father
had 10 wives and several mistresses).
In the Kingdom spans Carmen's life in Saudi Arabia--as big as
Saudi Arabia is, Carmen is basically confined to the family compound.
As soon as Carmen puts on the heavy, black abaya
she enters a society that is closed to women.
Although, Carmen does rebel--her exposure to the Western
world gives her a freedom of thought, and an inner
strength that is uncommon for the women of Saudi Arabia.
So much in love, Carmen looks away at the oppression she endures.
Instead, Carmen focuses on making her home
a haven, and supporting her husband.
After the birth of her two daughters, Carmen begins
to reconsider her life--especially when her
children are taught doctrines of hate in school.
Carmen knows that the only future for her daughters is
to become property through marriage, or if their father
died a male relative would gain charge over them.
Coming from a Western world, Carmen knows that life
could be different for her daughters--that they
could have opportunities outside Saudi Arabia.
Another turning point for Carmen is the erosion of her
marriage as Yeslam becomes increasingly unpredictable,
and often abusive but by law, a wife cannot go against
or speak against the word of her husband.
So Carmen begins to look for a way out.
It takes 14 years for Carmen to fight to free
herself and begin to live life truly on her terms.
Inside the Kingdom is truly a remarkable story.
More on Carmen:
_Telegraph | News | Carmen bin Laden
lifts the lid on life in Osama's family_
CNN.com - Bin Laden relative talks of
life in Saudi Arabia - Jul 15, 2004_
Inside the Kingdom : My Life in Saudi Arabia
(Unabridged) by Carmen Bin Ladin, ISBN: 1594830614_