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Mayada, Daughter of Iraq: One Woman's Survival Under Saddam Hussein by Jean P. Sasson & Mayada Al-Askari (Dutton) Jean Sasson was assigned Mayada Al-Askari as a translator on a trip to Baghdad in 1998. One year later, Sasson, a writer and lecturer who has lived in Saudi Arabia and traveled extensively in the Middle East, author of four internationally bestselling books on the Middle East, learned that Mayada had been taken without the knowledge of her family from the tiny print shop that she owned, imprisoned and subject to torture in the notorious Baladiyat Prison – headquarters of Saddam Hussein's infamous secret police.

Mayada's story, Mayada, Daughter of Iraq is truly incredible – her family was one of the most distinguished and honored families in Iraq . One grandfather fought alongside Lawrence of Arabia. The other was the first true Arab nationalist, admired greatly by Saddam Hussein. Her uncle was Prime Minister of Iraq for nearly forty years; her mother, an important government official. From personal meetings with Saddam Hussein and Chemical Ali to raising two small children as a single mother, Mayada's life was at once privileged, yet carefully balanced.

Life can shift quickly in Iraq and Mayada found herself thrown into a small cell with seventeen other women – the “shadow women.” Mayada, Daughter of Iraq is Mayada's courageous story, but also that of her sisters.

Sasson's candid, straightforward account of Mayada's time among the 17 "shadow women" crammed into Cell 52 gives readers a glimpse of the cruelty and hardship endured by generations of Iraqis. Mayada stares down this ugliness as soon as she's yanked into the prison's interrogation room: "She saw chairs with bindings, tables stacked high with various instruments of torture .... But the most frightening pieces of… equipment were the various hooks that dangled from the ceiling. When Mayada glanced to the floor beneath those hooks, she saw splashes of fresh blood, which she supposed were left over from the torture sessions she had heard during the night."

The women rally around each other to share their unbelievable stories and in so doing gain the strength to survive. The names of the shadow women are scrawled in charcoal onto the cell wall in the hopes that one day one of them will make it out to tell others of their existence. 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.

Mayada, Daughter of Iraq is a fascinating behind‑the‑scenes look at the cruelties suffered by the Iraqis under Hussein.

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