I’m a woman with a keen interest in a wide range of topics including women’s issues; animal rights issues; humanitarian issues and political movements, such as the events currently sweeping the Middle East. I am an avid reader and collector of books, mainly about travelers of the 18th and 19th centuries. I have enormous curiosity about other people and relish hearing about lives and opinions of people from all over the world.

I’m the author of the PRINCESS trilogy, GROWING UP BIN LADEN, MAYADA DAUGHTER OF IRAQ, FOR THE LOVE OF A SON, and more. You can visit my website or check out my books on Amazon for more info. You can also feel free to drop me a note at

127 Responses to Bio

  1. radwa says:

    are your books available in Egypt?

    • jeansasson says:

      Hi Radwa! Yes, the ones that are authorized by me from my Lebanese publisher are: PRINCESS; GROWING UP BIN LADEN; LOVE IN A TORN LAND. Soon to be released are the two PRINCESS sequels as well as FOR THE LOVE OF A SON.

      Unfortunately, the books were stolen by man unauthorized publishers and released years ago, so you might find those unauthorized copies too. This has only been a problem in the Persian and Arab markets — I don’t know why… Let me know what you find. IF you want the name of my Lebanese publisher, let me know and I’ll send it to you. Have a lovely day, Jean

      • Ashwini says:

        Hello Mrs.Sasson ,
        I am Ashwini . I am fifteen years old. I am from India . I just read your book MAYADA Thanks for writing such wonderful books . I have read only one book written by you and i will read all the books . I am really inspired by your books and also proud to be a woman.
        Thank You for writing these books . Have a loveley day!

      • jeansasson says:

        Hi Ashwini! Thank you for taking the time to write. It is very pleasing for an author to hear from her readers and to know that my books touch others. MAYADA is certainly a very serious story, but exceptionally important — was sad to write, I will admit. Thank you again and I’m very pleased you are going to read more of my books. I hope I hear from you again. Have a lovely day, Jean

  2. Itrat Zahra says:

    hello Jean. I’m a 23 year old girl from Pakistan. I’m a big fan of your works and the topics upon which u work interest me a lot. I used to read your works when i was 17 years old. Princess trilogy has been my favorite of all times. Now a days i’m doing my masters level thesis on feudalism and its effect on women in our culture plus i have taken Princess and will analyze it from feminist point of view. I needed your help!!
    Can u please provide me the reviews on Princess trilogy and other works? furthermore, i will need some more information about Princess Sultana, what happened to her after her last book was published.
    i really need your help for the reviews, because literature on issues related to women in Saudi Arabia is not available easily. i hope u understand. eagerly waiting for reply.
    have a great day, Itrat.

    • jeansasson says:

      How is it coming Itrat???

    • jeansasson says:

      Itrat, I was never able to find the boxes that had the PRINCESS reviews stored. I looked when I went to my mom’s house but could not find them. There is so much stuff stored there that I am not surprised. However, you are free to pull all the reviews from my website (there are PRINCESS reviews on that site) and use them as you need them. If I am too late, I am sorry. But shortly after writing you back I had to go out of town and was away more than I was home. IF it is not too late, I can update you on Princess Sultana. Let me know know…. Warm regards, Jean

      • Julie Sasson says:

        I received a call from a friend yesterday after she downloaded “Yasmeena’s Choice” & read it in record time! She was SO inspired by the story even though it is a hard story to digest in one sitting. I said to Kerrie that it should be a must read, a text book as it were, to all! The subject matter is SO revenant today, sadly so. I am going to write to a Journalist here in Sydney & see if she can brooch the topic on television. We have to get the truth out there & “Yasmeena”s Choice is as necessary As “Rape in Kuwait” was at the time. I’m so very proud of you Jean & we both know Peter is too. Congratulations,

      • jeansasson says:

        Dear Julie, How lovely of you to recommend my books and to follow up with friends. Thank Kerrie for me. I look forward to meeting her when I come to visit you next year. I remember that you were very stressed out worrying about the heroine of the book, but even then, talked about the necessity of telling the story. I thank you, and you know that you and Peter are always in my heart. All my love, Jean

  3. Teshnee Chetty says:

    Dear Jean,

    I have read the Princess trilogy several times over, and more recently, For The Love of a Son and Love in a Torn Land.

    I would just like to say you are one of my biggest role models as well as the women you have written about. One day I hope I can do something nearly as worthy with my life.

    The note from author which appears on the Amazon Kindle Store Jean Sasson page, is as if you are speaking from my heart.

    I am 23 years old and live in Johannesburg, South Africa.
    The first book I read which enlightened me of the horror that occurs in the Middle East was Not Without My Daughter by Betty Mahmoody. This was about 9 years ago, I was truly shocked. Since then I have tried to learn as much as I can about the countries in the Middle East and the plight of the women living there.

    I truly believe you have changed many lives, certainly mine, with the awareness you have brought to this cause. Princess Sultana, Joanna and Maryam will forever be in my heart and I will always wonder where they are and what they are doing now.

    Princess Sultana of Saudi Arabia, to this day I still refer to her as “My Princess”. What an incredible and strong woman, to defy her husband and family throughout her life to get what she felt was right. She attempted to and did help so many women, risking her life and the wrath of her family many a time. Her spunk and feistiness are a true inspiration to me. It took more than courage to share her story, being a member of the Saudi Royal family. She opened up doors to an unseen world.

    Joanna of Kurdistan, another example of the prevailing strength a human being can have, the sacrifice a human being can make. The strong love for her husband, the love of her life from a ripe young age, was incredible. The passion she had in her to fight for her rights and her land, her courage and bravery, once again, true inspiration.

    Finally, Maryam of Afghanistan, I cried and laughed during the reading of this book. While the other stories did not have so called “happy endings”, Maryam’s story struck me to the core more than the others because of the loss of her son, at the hands of the cruelty in the form of her first husband. I cannot imagine the pain she went through to have given birth to a sweet and innocent child only to see him 17 years later, changed into the living embodiment of his evil father. I only wish one day he will see the error of his ways and return to his mother the man he was meant to be.

    One thing these three women have in common, amongst many, is their bottomless love for their children, and for their respective countries.
    Despite being submitted to indescribable horror at the hands of the men of their countries, being faced with it on a daily basis, they have all prevailed and have inspired me. I have no doubt that I am one of many.

    Jean, thank you for bringing these stories to the forefront. I will definitely be reading the rest of the books you have written.
    Your writing is magnificent, creating a picture of these dusty lands so far away, and the stories within them.

    Thank you Jean and thank you to Princess Sultana, Joanna and Maryam. I cannot reiterate more, how much you have each changed my life. One day I will find a way to contribute to your cause.


  4. jeansasson says:

    Oh Teshnee, I forgot to tell you that Betty Mahmoody is a friend of mine. She is a very special lady and is still a wonderful mother to her lovely daughter, who is now a grown woman! Betty loved her daughter as much as a woman can love a child, and her actions proved it. Thanks, again… Jean

  5. Hi Jean,

    So happy to find this blog of yours! I’ve read princess and your work has impressed me so much. Me, as a girl growing up in the largest moslem country, is really touched with the fact in Saudi which you share through your book.

    I have talked about your book in some small and local discussion, and to my moslem friends, they like it and change their point of view about being a woman and a real moslem. I could say that Princess book has made a difference for power empowerment all over the world. I hope my country will translate more of your books as they’re great source of inspirations.

    By the way, I have sent you email through your website to ask for an interview. I have a book blog you can check the link and please email me if you’re willing to be interviewed by email (as I’m far away in Indonesia). The blog is in English, hoping that people all over the world can access it. I do also hope that through this interview, more people will know you and your works better….

    Thank you =)

    • jeansasson says:

      Yes, Bree, I’m happy to be interviewed but I cannot find your email now. Can you resend your email to I’m really sorry to take so long and hope you understand that since I’ve been traveling I’ve gotten very far behind on everything in my life. Many many thanks! Jean

  6. Valerie Nesbitt says:

    I’ve read the Princess trilogy as well as many others of your books. I’ve just finished with Mayada and, as with the Princess I long for more. Did Mayada ever get in touch with any of the shadow women? Is she still alive?
    Sultanas story can not end where it did. There is so much more to her story. Her children weren’t married yet and Sultana was only 40. It’s been ten years and I’m sure every fan wants to hear more of her. Please, if there is to be no more books on Mayada or Sultana, could you blog about what has become of them?

    • Radhika Tiwari says:

      I request for the same. Please tell us the fate of other women from shadow cell 52. Were they able to track any?

      • jeansasson says:

        Thank you for caring. Mayada did call all the families but all hung up on her. Mayada believed that
        they were so frightened of Iraqi security and feared they were being tested, that they would not
        take a chance and comment over the phone to someone they did not know. Very soon after release, Mayada had to flee to Jordan to keep from being rearrested. Then the war started in 2003 and all of Iraq was in chaos.
        Thus she had no way of contacting anyone. Mayada passed away feeling very sad because she did not
        know the fate of those extraordinary women. Thank you again for caring… I keep hoping that I will hear from one of them as Mayada’s story was put on in Arabic in Iraq a few years ago… Should I ever hear anything, I will post what I hear.

  7. jeansasson says:

    Hi Valeria! Thanks for your note. I’m traveling at the moment but will respond to you when I return to my office in Atlanta. I’ll let you know then what is going on! Have a great Sunday, Jean

  8. Kori says:

    Hi Jean:
    I just completed Growing Up Bin Laden, which I found insightful and fascinating. However, I’m just wondering if the extended bin Laden family (in Saudi Arabia), as well as Omar’s siblings supported him and his mother in telling their story?


  9. Sara Marques says:

    Hello Jean!
    I’m reading your book about Joanna of kurdistan “Love in Torn Land” and that amazing every history. But, i search your book because i’m interesting about culture of Kurdistan. And this it’s great because it’s really history. I’m interesting to know more about the kurdish culture and about the people from this place because since one year my life changed when i meet one boy from kurdistan in Sweden. After this moment, i wake up for his problems. In the future i want help or do some projects in kurdistan. It is possible you give the contact or email of Joanna. I want send a email or letter for her.

    Thank you very much

  10. jeansasson says:

    Hi Sara. Please do send me your email address and I will pass it along, with your note, to Joanna. However, please know that she is now living in the UK and not in Kurdistan so she is probably not the best person to chat with regarding projects in Kurdistan… You can send your email address to me here, or, if you would like to keep it private, just send to, okay?

    Have a lovely day, Jean

  11. Selina K. says:

    Hi Jean,

    I am a very new fan of yours and am so glad I have found your blog. My mother has been raving for years about your PRINCESS book. Just recently I started reading Mayada and then realized what my mom was talking about. Your book has sparked an interest in me, I have finished Mayada and am soon to start the Princess Trilogy. Your writing and the personal story of Mayada touched me in a way unlike a book has ever done. Never have I gone through so many emotions reading a book. I am very curious upon finishing the book, since it has been many years now, did Mayada ever find Samara or any of the shadow women? Where is Mayada now? What became of the Shadow Women? I am a new fan of yours and look forward to continue to reading your compelling books.


    • jeansasson says:

      Hi Selina! Thanks so much. Your note made me very happy. Yes, Mayada’s story was amazing, yet very difficult to write, and I know, to read. I used to weep as I was writing. The young girl Sarah in the prison has haunted me. I’m on the run this morning to get to a dental appointment, so I’ll write you back with lots of detail later tonight or in the morning, regarding all the women in the prison with Mayada.

      Tell your mom I said hello! Jean

      • Farah Jooma says:


        I have read your books since I was 13 years old and I am now 26 and read “Mayada” only recently. I too would like to know the fate of Mayada and the shadow women. I wept and prayed for all of them and their well being on reading their stories.

        Thank you!

      • jeansasson says:

        Hello Farah, This is Jean Sasson. Thank you so much for your very kind note. I feel very pleased that you have read MAYADA and care so much about her and the shadow women who shared that horrible cell! I do have very sad news. Once Mayada was released from prison, she called the families, but those poor people were so frightened that it was a trick by Saddam’s heinous guards, that they would hang up the phone. But Mayada kept calling and trying until she left Iraq for Jordan. Then, after America & Great Britain invaded Iraq in 2003, there was an American soldier who had read MAYADA and traveled to the site of the prison only to discover that the prison had been reduced to rubble. She (the soldier) was told that about a week prior to the invasion in 2003, that Saddam’s soldiers came in many buses and forced the prisoners to get into the buses and that all were taken away. We do not know if they were taken to the desert to be shot, or what happened to them. (It is a known fact that Saddam ordered many prisoners to be shot and killed rather than to live and report to journalists the terror of life in Saddam’s prisons. So, we have never been able to find those wonderful women. Now, I have even more terrible news for you. My darling Mayada passed away in 2015 after fighting cancer for three years. It was a most horrible disease but she fought it with all her strength so that she might live to be with her children. I am sad and sorry to give you this news — all we can do is to cherish and remember Mayada and the other brave and innocent women who were imprisoned with her. Mayada’s children are well and still live in DUBAI… I think of Mayada every day of my life as she was my dearest friend in the world… I will always love her, even on the last day of my own life.

      • jeansasson says:

        Hello Farah, This is Jean Sasson. Thank you so much for your very kind note. I feel very pleased that you have read MAYADA and care so much about her and the shadow women who shared that horrible cell! I do have very sad news. Once Mayada was released from prison, she called the families, but those poor people were so frightened that it was a trick by Saddam’s heinous guards, that they would hang up the phone. But Mayada kept calling and trying until she left Iraq for Jordan. Then, after America & Great Britain invaded Iraq in 2003, there was an American soldier who had read MAYADA and traveled to the site of the prison only to discover that the prison had been reduced to rubble. She (the soldier) was told that about a week prior to the invasion in 2003, that Saddam’s soldiers came in many buses and forced the prisoners to get into the buses and that all were taken away. We do not know if they were taken to the desert to be shot, or what happened to them. (It is a known fact that Saddam ordered many prisoners to be shot and killed rather than to live and report to journalists the terror of life in Saddam’s prisons. So, we have never been able to find those wonderful women. Now, I have even more terrible news for you. My darling Mayada passed away in 2015 after fighting cancer for three years. It was a most horrible disease but she fought it with all her strength so that she might live to be with her children. I am sad and sorry to give you this news — all we can do is to cherish and remember Mayada and the other brave and innocent women who were imprisoned with her. Mayada’s children are well and still live in DUBAI… I think of Mayada every day of my life as she was my dearest friend in the world… I will always love her, even on the last day of my own life.

  12. Selina K. says:

    Hi Jean, Pleasure hearing back from you! Great, I look forward to your email 🙂

  13. Hafsa says:

    Hi Jean, I am a 3rd Semester English literature student. I have read your Princess Trilogy and is very interested to lay my hands upon your other books 🙂 . But as of now, I have an opportunity to do a paper presentation and have chosen ‘Daughters of Arabia’. As I am doing such a work for the first time I need your help about how I should start my work.

    • jeansasson says:

      Dear Hafsa, I’m glad you chose Daughters of Arabia for your paper presentation. However, I have no idea what kind of class this is for, or what the requirements are from your instructor. Doesn’t your class and/or instructor have guidelines about what is expected in their paper presentation? If not, you should ask. I hesitate to give any advice on such an assignment as I have not seen the requirements, etc.

      • Hafsa says:

        Dear Jean, My instructor had asked to choose any good book i had read recently and critically analyze the book. I thought I will analyze the book from the Feminist point of view. But as I am new to this I am having difficulty to start.Anyways Thank you so much for your speedy reply. 🙂

  14. Jean Sasson says:

    Well, if that is the way you are going to start it, then I would start out by saying something along the lines that feminist is not a common approach to female issues in Saudi Arabia, but that there is one Saudi princess who is not afraid to touch the forbidden topic of discrimination against women. Then, I would tell about a few of the stories where the princess fights back against the men who try to keep women in a secondary position in life. The book is filled with such stories so you can select two or three examples and use the actual stories to explore her successes and her failures. At the end of the book I would put that the princess is still struggling against the problems so many women face in the kingdom and that there is hope that one day women will be able to live in full dignity. Using the book to show examples will make it easier for you and I don’t mind you’re quoting all the material you need from the pages of the book. GOOD LUCK! Jean

  15. Jean Sasson says:

    You are so very welcome! When writing, if you want to send me for comments, please feel free at Have a lovely evening! Jean

  16. Tanaya Katakkar says:

    Hi Jean,
    My name is Tanaya Katakkar and i am a 19 year- old studying engineering in India. I have read all the 3 princess books and i honestly loved them. I just had a couple of questions: Is Princess Sultana fine? How did her family react to the other 2 books? was her identity fund out by the others? I really admire her for having the courage to stand up for women in her nation and you for bringing the story to the world. The issue of female infanticide, child-marriages is also present in India. Although the Government has forbidden it, it is still there in Rural India. I just gave one message for the Princess: Like India, Saudi-Arabia will too begin to respect women and give them their rights. It may take time but it surely will happen

    • jeansasson says:

      Hi Tanaya! Thanks so much for your heartfelt message. It’s women like you that will bring so much change to the world of women. I know that in rural India there is still a lot of discrimination and problems for females. Female infanticide and child-marriages should take center stage in all governments and bans should be followed up by careful watch and punishment. The value of women must be noted. I believe that governments where this is a problem should make it financially valuable for girls to be born. There could be a stiped paid for the first five years of a girl’s life, or SOMETHING. Put on your thinking cap and come up with some ideas and let’s discuss them, okay? Then, I will blog about it and we can tweet and also write to governments.

      As far as the princess. She is just great. In fact, I’ve never known her to be any happier. She is working hard on her charity that educates Muslim girls, plus she is a young grandmother and that gives her a lot of pleasure.

      Thank you, Tanaya… I hope to hear back from you on the above. As women, we are strong and we can work together to help solve these problems.

      • Tanaya says:

        There are stipends paid when the girl is born in a few states where female infanticide is high but not in all parts of India. Luckily, the child-marriage issue is been taken way more seriously than before. The problem is that theoratically everything is done, but not practically!!!!!!! Also, the Government has now banned doctors from telling the gender of a child before birth. But I am sure in middle India(where discrimination is highest) noone takes anything related to girls seriously. For them girls continue to be a burden and must be wed as son as possible!!! Even educated men think on the same lines!!! It breaks my heart when I hear these stories!!! I will be happy to help in anyway possible Thank you for replying so quickly!!!

      • jeansasson says:

        Tanaya, that is wonderful that at least in a few states there are stipends paid. This should be implemented all over India and other countries where this is a life-or-death issue for newborn girls. I have read that there are 100 million missing girls all over the world, due to a combination of things: Parents are told the sex of the child and the mother aborts if it is a girl; at the time of birth mid-wives are paid to kill the baby girl; while growing up, the girls are given less food and no health care and some die from neglect. Yes, and then when the girls are wed so young and mistreated by their in-laws (treated as slaves, basically) many wither away, or in Afghanistan and a few other countries, suicide by burning themselves to death is a huge problem. I’m disappointed that my own government went into these countries and have not really made this a priority. When will people in government realize that without women having a say-so, and unable to live without fear and terror, that our world cannot prosper. Women are half of the world and no one in positions of authority seem to recognize how important it is to make a huge shift in the thinking of women, and their importance. I have a bunch of ideas, but of course, no government gives a fig what I think. There’s so much to be done and it makes me so sad because it seems that the only people who REALLY care are people like us who are not in high positions and able to make changes in laws. The only reason women have a better chance in the USA today, is the fact our laws are there to protect us, and if we so choose, we can sue the heck out of any company or government agency who discriminates against women. That kind of assistance should be available for every woman in the world! Let’s talk again soon. Thanks, Tanaya! Jean

  17. Tanaya says:

    Yup but even if such laws are available to women in India, they normally feel its their ‘duty’ to bear such non-sense!!!!! But i have seen women who think its their in-laws (normally mother-in-law) ‘rights’ to treat them like slaves!!!! These girls are brought up brainwashed and are led to believe that a girl’s place is only in the kitchen and at the feet of her husband and his family. They are educated only till the age of 15 or 17!!!!(because the government has made it compulsory for any child to be educated till 14 years) I have many real live incidents. I would like to share them if you like. Thanx!!! -Tanaya

    • jeansasson says:

      Yes, I know. I’ve always been sad to find that women so often do not help other women, but instead, are sometimes even more brutal than the men! It’s almost impossible to change an attitude if one is brought up believing themselves to be less than a man. Yes, it would be nice if you shared some true stories. Then I would like to use your stories and do a blog — of course, I will give you full credit for your contribution. It’s a topic that we never learn enough about, and the more we know, the better. Thank you, Tanaya.

  18. Lessel says:

    Jean Sasson,
    I’m a second year English Literature student from India. I live in Goa and the way women are treated here is much better off than in any of the other Indian states. While in my First year i came across your book princess and i totalllllieeeee loved it. i loved the way you actualy put your self in their shoes..! Their fear, Joys, pains.. u bought all of it to life.!
    And since then i’ve read and bored my friends to death about your books … Living the life i do and knowing that somewhere out there there are women being treated like slaves is really sad. thankQ for making us aware of the horrors of the arab nations.
    I’m in the middle of my Semester End exams ryt now & i had to choose my fav author for my literature paper and i chose you! cuz u r simply amazing!!!!!:)
    hope u continue your amaziiing writing!
    You are a real inspiration to me.

    • jeansasson says:

      I know that there are big problems in some areas for women (in India). I’m so glad that the story of Princess Sultana inspired you. And, most of all, I thank you for passing the word. It’s SO important for women to get together and work to stop this blatant discrimination against our sex. It occurs all over the world, too, even in the USA and in Europe.

      Thank you for choosing me as your favorite author. What an honor!

      Please do stay in touch, With very warm regards, Jean

  19. Martaha Barry says:

    Dear Jean: I love your books about “Princess” – I too am sadened by Muslin women’s fate. What has happened to Sultana and her family? I would really like to know – I pray each day for the liberation of Muslin women and the release from the cruel treatment they receive. I would appreciate an answer to this


    Martha Barry

    • jeansasson says:

      Hi Martaha, Thanks for your note. I’m always delighted when others care about the heroines I write about. As far as Princess Sultana, everything is really good. Two of her three children are married, she is a grandmother and she is still very involved in helping young girls with their education, a passion of hers. In many countries there is great improvement in the lives of women, while in others, things are standing still, or going backward. Thank you again… Jean

  20. Disha Kapoor says:

    Hello Ma’am,

    It was wonderful receiving a reply from you on my blog post- “The Book I Last Read: Mayada Al Askari). I am 19 years old and I am pursuing LAW, currently in my 2nd year in Army Institute of Law, Mohali, Punjab (India). I stay in the campus’ hostel and it was day before yesterday that I was wading through my gmail account when I saw a comment from you on my blog and you won’t believe how happy I was because it wasn’t any random person, it was JEAN SASSON, the author of the very book I read and which inspired me so much. Just moments after that, I called up my mother who is staying in another State and expressed the joy which was filled inside my heart. I was jumping on my bed and was really really excited.

    I am one of those many great fan of your writings, but I won’t deny the fact that after reading Mayada, I was so swayed by that book that I even found Mayada herself on facebook and by God’s grace she accepted my request and replied to me. Though I can’t find her anymore in my friend list. And I almost took all my projects in the college voluntarily on this book. But truly mam, I would be honored if i can get a better opportunity of interacting with you. Just as a teenager who wants to have a bit of a more of a friendly term with her idol. Only if you like mam. 🙂
    My e-mail id is

    As I mentioned in my blog, I myself am the citizen of a country which has faced almost equally in terms of torture like Iraq during the British Rule. So, I could truly know what atrocities were inflicted on Mayada and her country as well. Maybe its that feeling that has connected me so much with the book and an author like you!

    • jeansasson says:

      Hi Disha,

      Please do call me Jean. I am very happy to receive your note and so glad that you found my note to you! I must say I feel very flattered that my note was so pleasing to you. Please tell your mom that I said hello.

      Yes, Mayada is no longer on Facebook, but she might come back soon. She is very busy and has lots going on right now. Mayada is my dearest friend in the world and we chat at least once a day! I was thinking about this yesterday, in fact, and since I met Mayada in Iraq in 1998, rarely has a day gone by that we have not communicated. Mayada is one of the most fun people in the world. She has a sense of humor, but also, is very serious about the things that we should be serious about. She’s a wonderful mother to her two children and a fabulous friend. I’m so lucky I met her that hot July day in Baghdad. Who would have ever believed that such a friendship would come from that three-week meeting in Iraq!

      Please do feel free to send me an email to and I will reply.

      I hope you get to read more of my books — check out my website and you’ll see them. But the most important thing is that you do well with your studies.

      For now, a very big smile from Atlanta, Georgia, Jean

      • Disha Kapoor says:

        Dear Jean,

        I hope that you are in good health and are happy wherever you are. I don’t know whether you remember me or not and I won’t even blame you for the latter because of so many inspired people you connect with, but I am the same person who have left these comments above. That is why I chose to reply here.

        This is just a conversation and a request that I want to put up with, so it won’t be worth accepting as a comment. So you may just read and delete it. I wrote an article about your book Mayada, on, on which you had commented. That was the most happiest day of my life. After that we exchanged our email ids, had lots of conversations, followed each other on twitter and then I just vanished. What happened to me? Life happened.

        But, I came back. As I forgot the password to my wordpress blog, I have created a new one ( and I am constantly posting on that. That blog too has the same article on your book. Recently, you liked it as well. So, I have come up with a request if you could comment on that as well and follow my blog too. Why am I coming up with the ‘follow up’ request is because in a few days’ time, I would be posting an article on you. And as my idol and my favorite author, I would love that you read it as well.

        I am following you on facebook and twitter too! Looking forward to more conversations with you via e-mail. My id is the same ( Hope that you like my new blog !


      • Keshab Pun says:

        Great job you have been doing that every one can appriciat, not only me…….

  21. I have read 3 books of yours, The princess, daughters of arabia. Here’s the best part about your books, people generally just blame the religion itself in their books when they write about saudi but you know how to classify the culture & religion. You make the reader understand that the religion does not permit certain things that saudis do, it is just their silly culture. I remember when I finished reading the princess, I was on a beach on weekend and I couldn’t help but cry. You are an amazing writer and whats more heartbreaking is that the stories are real. After The princess, I tried reading another book called ‘In the land of Invisible women’ by another writer and i couldn’t go past half the book because she just couldn’t convey the real message to her readers that the culture is not the religion. So well, I then went back to your book and read daughters of arabia. I guess what I am saying is, you are an amazing writer, please don’t change your style of writing, ever.

    • jeansasson says:

      Gosh, I need you as my publicity person! (smile)

      You have hit on one of the biggest problems I have run across as a writer: people who have never read a single one of my books, but get online and screech that I am attacking Islam only because the books address problems faced by Muslim women. They don’t have a clue that the books I write are to tell about women and culture and NOT the religion. I’ve never attacked a single religion in my entire life. All of my heroines thus far are women who are of the Muslim faith, and none of them have ever said one bad thing about Islam, but all are incensed by primitive cultural beliefs that make life so difficult for women. In fact, I believe that the books I write bring people to care about women of the Middle East or other Muslim countries. Then, you have the equally ignorant people who take at face value those who are screeching that I have attacked Islam, and they join the chorus without bothering to read the book.

      There is something about the internet age that fosters this kind of crowd mentality of ganging up, yet, they are generally clueless.

      Anyone who has actually read the books I write, KNOW that there are no attacks on Islam. Although I would never attack Islam, neither would my heroines. All would pull back from the books should there be any attack on their faith.

      I’m so pleased that you like the books I write… This means a lot to me. Many many thanks for taking the time to write. Jean

      • I am taken back that you actually replied to my comment, I feel like a celeb now 😉 You should come here for Emirates Lit Fest and maybe I can get your signature on my books that you wrote!
        I agree with you, people read just the comments and believe in whatever is written there. What they don’t read is the actual book. When I was reading your book I noticed you had quoted verses from Quran and the hadiths and I was very impressed because you made a clear distinction using them about how the verses of the Quran are manipulated by few to suit their stupid culture.
        A simple example of this is the fact that even in today’s day and age, many middle easterners get their sons/daughters married in a certain family or tribe and anyone outside it cannot and will not be accepted as a prospective bride or groom. Result? Girls/Guys who really want to get married but they can’t so they end up looking for alternatives and god forbid if they are in love with somebody else then they are forced to forget about that person and get married to someone the family chooses. Result? Some spend their lives sadly and some have extra marital affairs. What does Islam say about marriage? That a woman can marry anyone as long as the guy is a muslim. A man can marry any muslim, christian or jew.
        Once again, people really need to open their minds and really rethink their beliefs when they just attack islam for everything.

  22. I just realized you are following my blog now *faints*

  23. Laavanya says:

    I came around thinking this is a fanpage of sorts, but now,I don’t think so.
    Wow! Thank you so much for your books, Ms.Sasson, it was a pleasure reading them. I was asked to read Princess by my friend and when I finished I was shocked, amazed and most of all enraptured by the book. Perhaps it opened my eyes a bit, to the life of women in a society entirely different to mine; yet sometimes the patriarchal intentions and domination resonates a bit deeply.
    And then, a good three years later, I found Daughters of Arabia at a local lending library and I was overjoyed. Although it saddened me that Sultana’s secret was revealed and her trials in life, the book was once again a joy to read.
    And now, a year after that, I still frequent the library in hope of finding Desert Royal and other books of yours.
    As for my reading circle of friends, a few of them decided to pick up Princess upon my suggestion and they loved it as well.

    • jeansasson says:

      Laavanya, thank you for your comment. I hope you can find Desert Royal (Princess Sultana’s Circle in the USA.) Can you get ebooks? If so, all three books have just been published in one edition on Amazon & B&N. Let me know and thank you most of all for passing the world. Hope to chat with you again.

      • Laavanya says:

        Wow! I feel really excited you replied!

        And I didn’t know there were ebooks out now. Thanks! I could definitely have them on my Kindle. Although, I’ll have to wait for a while before I come into some book-buying money.

        One of the things I was wondering, and if you are okay with answering – What was your thought process like when you began this writing journey? About women and their lives? Were you always interested in this line of writing?

        I probably shouldn’t bombard you with so many questions though.
        Happy New Year!

      • jeansasson says:

        Sorry for the long delay but my life has really been crazy as a friend’s baby was kidnapped in Lebanon and it took 9 days to find her. We are all exhausted, but happy! I hope you get to buy the e-books soon. Where are you living???

        You can ask me any questions you like. I will come back and respond within the week, okay? It’s late at night and I’ve had quite the day and I might not answer sensibly! (smile)

        Have a lovely day, Laavanya… Jean

      • Laavanya says:

        Ouch. I hope they’re all safe and sound and happy now.

        Oh, I stay in the southern part of India.

        I’ll look forward to your replies. 🙂 Cheers! Have a great day!

      • jeansasson says:

        Yes, safe and happy. Thank you. What is the most beautiful part of Southern India? (I know that the entire country is gorgeous, but I wondered about your area.)

        Have a lovely day, Jean

      • Laavanya says:

        That’s good to here.
        I live in Chennai, which is a quirky, lovely city! Do visit!

        Have a great day, yourself!

      • Laavanya says:

        Hi! I just wanted to say how I happened to find Desert Royal at a Used Book Sale here (for as low as Rs.30) and I am absolutely overjoyed. Found it after years! 😀

      • jeansasson says:

        Wonderful news! i think YOU CAN FIND it new in some bookstores but happy that you found it, however the case. Happy reading!

  24. Issac Maez says:

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  25. Gihan says:

    Hi Jean,
    I just completed the book Princess. It’s really amazing and very emotional, and gave some insight we never concerned though we had heard kind of news. I felt very emotional when she lost her mother and every time she being helpless at the tragedies of her close. I am also felt so sad being time flowing fast and knowing all little sultana or Sara has grown and old at the end of the story and in fact now. Sultana is loving, attractive and ambitious character. I got very curious to see her real picture but couldn’t find any in Google. Is that a real picture of sultana in the cover page of the book Princes Sultana’s Circle?( I am going to read the trilogy as soon as i found some free time. I hope and wish Sultana, Sara and all her family living happily and peacefully.

    • jeansasson says:

      Thank you, Gihan. My apologies for the delay in responding but for some reason none of my messages came up until today! To answer your question, no, that is not a real picture of Princess Sultana. That is a model, but it does look somewhat like her… Thanks again for writing and happy reading!

  26. Wow, awesome blog layout! How long have you been blogging for? you make blogging look easy. The overall look of your website is wonderful, as well as the content!. Thanks For Your article about Bio | Jean Sasson .

  27. Rhien Priza says:

    Hi Jean,
    I’m Rhien, an Indonesian muslimah. I’ve read Princess, a very wonderful book with many shocking facts about women’s lives in Saudi. Your book have given me a new thought that women are still neglected even in their own family circle, and also helped me to open my new interest to study more about women.
    Then, in half past year I decided to make it as the research object of my undergraduate thesis concerning with gender inequality issues. And I’m in progress of completing it now… 🙂
    I would like to say many thanks for sharing those facts through the book. I do hope that your every book will give many advantages and benefits both for literal and factual world.
    Have a great day… 🙂
    Rhien 🙂

    • jeansasson says:

      Good evening, Rhien… Thank you for writing to me and I’m so pleased that the book(s) I wrote about Princess Sultana have inspiring you with regard to your undergraduate thesis. Please do let me know how it goes and I appreciate your very kind words. GOOD LUCK!

  28. Ish says:

    Hi Jean..Hw ru?? This is a message from India. I love ur books 🙂 i just finished Mayada yest and im totally awed by the way u write and express. Although the story was heart wrenching i can count it as one of my fav books. However, i do have a question. Could you tell me what happened to the shadow women?? Samara in particular? i really feel like the readers are connected to them. awaiting a reply.. 🙂 good day!!

    • jeansasson says:

      Ish, I am traveling and borrowing a laptop to check emails. When I return I will tell you all that we discovered about the shadow women. Thank you for caring and for asking…. Jean

  29. Tanzeela Husain says:

    Hi Jean, I am Tanzeela from India. I’ve read the Princess trilogy and Mayada. I am touched and happy at the same time. It must be wonderful to write about such beauties who inspire girls like us. I learned a lot from your novels. They inspire me in every way. What we are capable of doing and what are our weaknesses! I loved how you have portrayed Princess Sultana’s character, she is just a wonderful person. A women of her image just makes me feel strong and content. I am trying to portray your characters in my college project as I have taken your novel as my base research. I would be delighted if you would share a couple or more stories around the empowerment of women in Islam. I will be happy. 🙂

    • jeansasson says:

      Hi Tanzeela, This is Jean. I’m really pleased that you are inspired by the books I have written. I have written 11 now and you can read about them on my website if you are so inclined. I do wish you so much luck with your school project. I’m sorry that I cannot personally write and send you some more stories about empowerment of women in Islam — at the moment I am on a huge book project with a looming deadline and hardly have time to eat. However, you might find inspiration from FOR THE LOVE OF A SON or even in my AMERICAN CHICK IN SAUDI ARABIA or GROWING UP BIN LADEN as all do have stories of women in Islam… Let me know how your project goes, okay? With very warm wishes, Jean

      • Tanzeela says:

        Thank you so much jean, I am working on the topic, though I have to admit that the starting quotes that you have written in Princess Sultana’s Daughters in amazing! I read some poems of Khalil Gibran and I am officially a big fan of his poems! I am trying to mix his work with my images.

      • jeansasson says:

        I’m so glad Tanzeela! Thanks for letting me know. The princess & I (both) are big fans of the Lebanese poet Khalil Gibran. I hope your project is going wonderfully! Jean

  30. katcanfield says:

    I have now read all your books, all are fantastic. I first read Princess when I was researching the Saudi culture for a romance novel I wrote about a Saudi man and an American woman, after 9/11. The book is called Only Love Twice (available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and my website – In this story both parties are finding love the second time around. I had written most of the story before finding your books and was able to edit a few things to fit the culture. I am currently working on a sequel and I admit I have leaned heavily on things I learned in all three of the Princess books.
    I am drawn to Saudi Arabia; the desert calls to me. I was drawn to it long before I ever considered writing when I fell in love and rode Arabian horses. I had researched the breed and found the Bedouin live a romantic one; perhaps not unlike Laurence of Arabia. I hope some day I will be able to visit there. I loved your stories about living there in American Chic. I have also read Dr. Qanta Ahmed’s book about living there. I am curious if you two ever crossed paths while in the Kingdom?
    The point of this email is that I would like to send you a copy of my novel for your review and comments to make the next one just as readable. I would also like to get a copy of it to Princess Sultana. You may send the shipping address to my email – to keep it private. Thank you so much for your stories; you are very gifted! I can’t wait for the next one.

  31. simplyilka says:

    Hi Jean! I love your books! I live in the UAE and know the Gulf region a little and am truly impressed about your research and resources. Looking forward to reading more, Ilka 🙂

    • jeansasson says:

      I’m really pleased and happy to hear from you simplyika! Yes, if you live in the area, you are much more aware of the reality that faces women. Of course, it is much better in the UAE. My darling friend, MAYADA, of MAYADA, DAUGHTER OF IRAQ lives in Dubai and writes for the Gulf News. I’ve been to the UAE many times. It’s a “happening place!”

      An organization of the Emir’s chose my book ESTER’S CHILD as a book that best promotes peace in the world, so that made me very happy!

      Have a lovely day, Jean

  32. Keshab Pun says:

    Dear great author JEAN,
    I am so glad to get some beautiful books in book shop in Kathmandu, Nepal written by you. I am a student of M.A. English from T.U. Nepal (central Department of English, T.U. Nepal) and was hunting a very fruitful, beautiful books meeting my desires and goal to have thesis on. By luck I found your book and bought both Mayada and Love in a Torn Land which were available there. I read thoroughly the book love in a Torn Land and my friend Mayada. Both of us willing to have thesis on mentioned book.

    I am wishing to have thesis on Love in a Torn land as topic, “Traumatic Experience…..” / “New historical Reading on……”/ “Heroism of Joanna ………..”/ “Love Complexity………….”…… What I mean is, many topic I have chosen which must be finalized by my guide teacher but before that, could you please help me with some suggestions regarding this?

    Your upcoming best reader,
    Keshab Pun,
    Kathmandu, Nepal.

    • jeansasson says:

      Hi Keshab, I’m sorry for the delay but I am on a book deadline — due to family illness I got terribly behind and am working around the clock and rarely check messages. I will be finished with this project in about 15 days and would be happy to chat with you at that time. Of course, that might be too late for you. Let me know — I will try to check this site again in a day or two. Otherwise, you can write to me at as I check that e-mail every day or two. Thanks for writing and I will speak with you later… Jean Sasson

  33. Keshab Pun says:

    Dear Author,

    I am trying to get access to reach you faster possible to get some responses regarding my on going job which could make me happy and to my job authentic cum releasable. To do so, am visiting your web and other possible but still fail to do as per my wish. Hope I will get it.

    One more topic I have chosen is < Love in a Torn Land as a Memoir…………..

    Keshab Pun
    Kathmandu, Nepal.

  34. jeansasson says:

    The best I can do now is for you to write me direct at — I’m sorry but I am on a book deadline and can’t be late on that as my publisher is depending on me — therefore I am writing 12 to 14 hours a day, every day. Please feel free to send me 5 direct questions and I will answer you after the 30th of April after I turn in my manuscript to my publisher…. I’ll look to hear from you, Jean

  35. Keshab Pun says:

    I have planed to see “Heroic Quality of Joanna” in the Novel “Love in a Torn Land” (Not final Decision). I wrote in your mail too.

    Keshab Pun
    Ktm. Nepal.

  36. Keshab Pun says:

    Now I am going to use trauma; physiological study on your book, Mayada………..Can I have some material from your side?

    • jeansasson says:

      Okay, so you are going to use MAYADA, DAUGHTER OF IRAQ? What kind of materials do you think you need? Do you need to ask me some questions? Or, if you wanted to ask Mayada one or two questions, too, I could connect you with her, although I can answer up to 5 questions, she cannot answer but a couple as she has a lot going on in her life right now. Write me back and let me know. For now, have a good day…. Jean

  37. Keshab Pun says:

    Thank for your moral support, now I need to analysis and prove on what prospective MAYADA, DAUGHTER OF IRAQ is a traumatic experiences of Mayada, I got some and get conclusion its all about traumatic experiences of Mayada but in the same time its like a biography too. So, if anybody had got research/Thesis on it, plz help me by providing if possible. Or there might have many authentic criticism or literary review on this book, please help me by sending them. Thesis proposal has been pass so for all details I need to go for details study on. Now let me have some details query on ; how Mayada was expressing during remembering her past? She might have mental hangover, fear, tear, or many more psychological impact……….

    • jeansasson says:

      HERE ARE SOME REVIEWS, KESHAB. Let me know if this helps a little…

      One Woman’s Survival Under Saddam Hussein

      AmazonBarnes & NobleIndieBound
      Iraqi Prison Abuse Allegations Put ‘Mayada’ in New Light

      By Rosalie Rayburn
      Journal Staff Writer
      Sunday, June 27, 2004

      Army Pfc. Lynndie England probably didn’t read this book before she became a guard at Abu Ghraib prison.

      But Jean Sasson’s retelling of the prison experiences of Mayada, a prominent Baghdad journalist, has become a different reading experience as a result of England’s (and others’) alleged prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib.

      The dim and squalid world of Saddam Hussein’s Baladiyat prison that Sasson portrays resonates all the more unpleasantly since the media publication of pictures from Abu Ghraib.

      Daily torture sessions at Baladiyat included jolts of electricity that left one of Mayada’s cellmates breathing out puffs of smoke. Until the pictures of Abu Ghraib were released, U.S. readers could take comfort in the belief that our side didn’t condone torture.

      “Mayada, Daughter of Iraq” is familiar territory for Sasson, who has made personal stories of the tribulation of well-connected Arab women her stock in trade. Sasson spent 10 years working in Saudi Arabia where she befriended the princess who became the subject of her best seller “Princess, A True Story of Life Behind the Veil in Saudi Arabia.” In her newest book, Sasson retells the sufferings of Mayada Al-Askari and her prison companions at the hands of a cast of sadistic guards and interrogators in the Baghdad headquarters of Saddam’s secret police.

      Mayada is a divorced mother of two young children who comes from a prominent family that played a pivotal role in Iraqi politics. Mayada has been a successful journalist and owner of a small printing business. She’s accused of printing anti-regime pamphlets and imprisoned before she can make arrangements for someone to take care of her two children.

      As in her earlier books, Sasson focuses on the empathy that unites Arab women, whether they face abusive husbands and repressive social strictures or in this case, brutal prison conditions. While the reader feels admiration for “the shadow women” as Mayada calls her companions in Cell 52, Sasson’s treatment of the situation verges on the maudlin at times.

      It’s hard to believe that almost 20 women crammed together in a cell under primitive and terrifying conditions could maintain the sweet-tempered solidarity that apparently characterized Mayada’s prison life.

      It’s equally hard to believe that some of Mayada’s companions don’t express more resentment for her privileged treatment during her incarceration. Yet Mayada is only interrogated once and suffers mild torture compared to the descriptions of what the other inmates undergo.

      Mayada’s companions endure almost daily beatings and torture by electric shock. Thanks to her family connections, Mayada gets off lightly. She helps distract her cellmates with tales of her family and her meetings with Saddam Hussein.

      The added value of Sasson’s book lies in its portrait of Iraq as a deeply troubled country with a rich and complex history. In her introduction, Sasson outlines Iraq’s place as a center of learning and commerce in the Middle East. She recounts how its geographic importance as the crossroads between Europe and Asia made it a target for repeated invasions.

      And Sasson says that what is now Iraq was once known as Mesopotamia, “an ancient paradise with great glory.” It was a culture that produced “poets and scholars, and some early rulers were mighty builders who were devoted to literature and good works, and who gave the first established laws and freedom to the world,” she writes.

      Sasson’s book provides a valuable insight into Iraq not available on the nightly news.

      Rosalie Rayburn is a Journal business writer who has lived in Saudi Arabia.


      December 22, 2003

      MAYADA Al-ASKARI comes from a long line of prestigious Iraqis. Her famous family was respected by many, including Saddam Hussein. Herself an acclaimed writer and recipient of many awards, Mayada was able to save numerous people from imprisonment and death through her friendship with the director of the secret police. Despite the turmoil and devastation that Iraq suffered under Saddam, her family’s prominence and their connections within the Iraqi government kept her safe–that is, until the fateful day she was arrested and thrown into the Baladiyat prison complex by Saddam’s secret police. In Cell 52, she joined a group of 17 “shadow women” whose innocence meant nothing to their captors; she was tortured and imprisoned for almost a month without trial.

      Her painful story, as documented in this fine book by Jean Sasson, is made even more terrifying by the fact that Mayada was one of the fortunate ones: Sheer luck enabled her to escape to Jordan with her life and her children. We are left only to wonder about the Iraqis who were secreted away to rot in prisons unbeknownst to their loved ones because of the paranoid rumblings of their monstrous president. (Reviewed by Meghan Keane)

      Publisher’s Weekly – Book Review

      September 29, 2003

      MAYADA, DAUGHTER OF IRAQ: One Woman’s Survival Under Saddam Hussein

      When author Sasson (Ester’s child; Princess Sultana’s Circle, etc) was assigned Mayada Al-Askari as a translator on a 1998 trip to Baghdad, she had no idea she would form a lasting friendship with this fluent English speaker and member of a prominent Iraqi family. When Sasson returned to the United States, the two women wrote letters and telephoned each other weekly until, in 1999, Mayada was arrested by Saddam Hussein’s secret police for illegally printing anti-regime pamphlets in her Baghdad print shop and imprisoned for nearly a month in Iraq’s brutal Baladiyat prison. Sasson’s candid, straight-forward 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 from her meticulously run shop 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 these hooks, she saw splashes of fresh blood, which she supposed were left over from the torture sessions she had heard during the night.” Sasson’s graceful handling of such stomach-turning material, including an overview of Iraq’s political and social turmoil, is a tribute to her friend, who escaped to Jordan with her children soon after her release from prison. Although Mayada’s story has a happy ending, the unclear fates of her cell mates serve as a painful remainder of how many innocent lives were cut short by Hussein’s regime.

      BOOKLIST – Book Review

      October 15, 2003

      Mayada, Daughter of Iraq, One Woman’s Survival under Saddam Hussein

      Sasson, author of Princess: A True Story of Life Behind the Veil in Saudi Arabia (1992), first met Mayada in 1998. A year later, Mayada, granddaughter of a revered Iraqi hero who fought with Lawrence of Arabia, a former journalist, modern businesswoman, and the mother of two children, was arrested and imprisoned on allegations that her business was printing antigovernment flyers. Sasson relates Mayada’s imprisonment with 17 “shadow women,” similarly falsely accused and imprisoned and subjected to torture and cruelty under the regime of Saddam Hussein. 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. She recalls her mother’s acquaintance with Hussein’s wife and their mutual dislike. Mayada also tells of interviews with the cruel and erratic Ali Hassan Al-Majid, Hussein’s cousin and the man who would become known as Chemical Ali. This is a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at the cruelties suffered by the Iraqis under Hussein. Vanessa Bush

      All hell on the eastern front: Reporting Iraq

      By Ali Jaafar
      Special to The Daily Star
      Saturday, May 15, 2004

      Book Reviews:

      John Keats once wrote of war, “The days of peace and slumberous calm are fled.” With the war in Iraq and the continuing uncertainty caused by the “war on terror,” one might wonder if the days of peace and slumberous calm have fled for good. Three recently published books, each from a different perspective, attempt to go behind the headlines of the Iraqi conflict, from the first Gulf War of 1991 through to Saddam Hussein’s eventual toppling in 2003. Anthony Swofford’s “Jarhead” takes the reader on a first person journey through the experiences of a Marine, the eponymous “jarhead” or grunt, sent to liberate Kuwait following Hussein’s invasion in 1990. In Jean Sasson’s “Mayada: Daughter of Iraq,” we witness in graphic detail the horrors of life in Iraq under Hussein, as a privileged Iraqi woman finds herself in the former Iraqi leader’s torture cells, awaiting prosecution for a crime she did not commit. Bill Katovsky and Timothy Carlson’s “Embedded: The Media at War in Iraq,” throws the reader into the maelstrom of journalists’ experiences of reporting on the most recent US-lead invasion of the country.

      Swofford’s book, perhaps surprisingly, is the most lyrical of the three, his prose alternating between the machine gun banter of a soldier with the wry, wistful soul of a poet: “After we each take a few bites, I throw the pear and when it lands, sand attaches to the moist fruit, like memory to the soft parts of the brain.” Swofford, who reads the “Iliad” in the back of a Humvee while on patrol, is a most uncommon jarhead. The idiosyncrasy of his reading material is exposed comically when a fellow “grunt” comments, “That’s some heavy dope, sniper. Cool.” His sense of detachment extends throughout the book, from his fellow soldiers to his family back home, and ultimately to the country he is supposed to be defending.

      Swofford eschews any sense of triumphalism, revealing instead the horrors of war in all its true glory. “These men spread what they call good news, the good news about war and warriors. Some of the men who spread good news have never fought- so what could they have to say about the purity of war and warriors. These men are liars and cheats and they gamble with your freedom and your life and the lives of your sons and daughters and the reputation of your country.” It’s a measure of Swofford’s cynicism that while the journalist John Koopman reminds the reader of his own military background in “Embedded,” with the proud words, “Once a Marine, always a Marine,” in Swofford’s more cynical world, those words are as much a curse as a compliment.

      Swofford shares with Sasson a desire to expose the human cost of war and conflict, away from the vainglorious trumpeting of politicians, Arab or American. Sasson’s account of the life of Mayada al-Askari, the granddaughter of Sati al-Husri, widely recognized as one of the fathers of Arab nationalism, is a devastating journey into the evil of Saddam Hussein’s regime. Though born to a respected, powerful family, Askari finds herself a prisoner of Hussein’s jails. Both Swofford and Sasson focus upon the bodies of the dead, with the former Marine writing, “The corpses are badly burned and decaying, and when the wind shifts up the rise, I smell and taste their death, like a moist rotten sponge shoved into my mouth.” Where Swofford’s landscape of death is limited to the battlefield, for Sasson, this tortured landscape is the city she lives in, and the jail in which she finds herself a captive. “At the top, emaciated men in torn, bloodstained clothing squatted on the floor, their hands bound behind their backs. Every face was bruised, some faces still streamed with blood.”

      For the journalists in “Embedded,” on the other hand, such scenes are nothing new. This desensitization to the everyday cost of war is, to some extent, an occupational hazard for so many combat zone journalists, a consequence of seeing such suffering on a daily basis. In one passage the Voice of America’s East Africa Bureau Chief Alisha Ryu graphically sums up the process by which one becomes all too familiar with scenes of devastation. “In Africa I have watched hands being chopped off. I’ve watched a man being roasted alive and his heart eaten. There is so much brutality that I saw that after a while I became numb to it. It is terrible to say but its true. I now have almost no reaction when I see dead bodies.” For all her self-professed blase neutrality, the visceral description betrays the fact that these images will stay with her for a lifetime, a permanent tattoo. That the outrages she describes occurred in Africa, and not Iraq, also serves as an unfortunate reminder that no single party has the copyright on brutality when the fog of war descends on a nation.

      Sasson writes in her introductory notes that “Mayada lived her life in Iraq. She grew up in Iraq. She pursued a career in newspaper reporting in Iraq. She was married in Iraq. She gave birth to two children in Iraq. She survived the Iran-Iraq War. She survived the Gulf War. She survived the sanctions. Mayada suffered through nearly every phase of modern Iraq’s turbulent history.” In beginning her story with such panoramic parameters, Sasson is able to imbue Mayada’s story with a universality of the Iraqi experience, which makes her plight all the more shocking. Hers is the story of so many other “shadow women” in Iraq, beaten, raped and violated through the 35-year Baath Party rule.

      While Swofford’s journey ends on the Iraq-Kuwait border, and the journalists of “Embedded” play in the empty palaces of the now departed Hussein, Mayada takes us face to face with the most senior members of the regime. We hear of her meetings with Hussein himself, “when she had even stood close enough to the man to note the dark green tribal tattoo he once wore on the end of his nose,” through to Saddam’s son Uday as she attempts to flee the country. “Even though Uday hobbled with a cane, he held an enormous Asian tiger on a leash … He hobbled through the station, spitting on people and screaming at them. He called everyone a traitor for leaving Iraq.”

      Most chilling of all, however, is her encounter with Hussein’s cousin Ali al-Majid, or Chemical Ali as he would come to be known after he gassed the Kurds in 1988 at Halabja. Granted an exclusive interview after Hussein had repeatedly praised her work, Askari is initially struck by Majid’s handsome features. Her first impressions are soon forgotten once she witnesses his capacity for cruelty. “Ali frowned menacingly at the woman and said, ‘Listen, whore. Today you will be thrown into the no-man’s land between the Iraqi Army and the Iranian Army. Your children will be thrown there with you. The artillery shelling is so heavy that eventually you will all be killed. And that will be a good thing for Iraq.’ Ali al-Majid suddenly burst out laughing like a child. He shouted, ‘I am a kind man. I am a good man.” This is a world with no morality, a country with no law, a city reduced to a battlefield where only the strong and well-connected survive.

      All three books look closely at the demoralizing nature of war and military conflict. Swofford writes “the most deadly wars occur in the head,” and this is mirrored when Sasson writes of Askari, “That terrifying time would never fade from her memory even if she lived to be a hundred years old.” Detroit News reporter John Bebow comments on the same indelible agony in “Embedded:” “I saw them without their skulls. I saw them disemboweled. I saw them shot up and raked by helicopter fire.” Much has already been written on the horrors of war, yet here we see in vivid detail its equally corroding effect on soldier, civilian and journalist alike.

      The trio of books also deal directly with the coverage of conflict, and the responsibility of journalists in a time of war. Dante believed that, “The hottest place in hell is reserved for those who in times of moral crisis remain neutral.” It is the curious predicament of the journalist to find himself seemingly obligated by the very nature of his profession to remain neutral in times of war, a paradox examined intriguingly throughout “Embedded,” as countless journalists recall in first-hand accounts their experiences of traveling with troops.

      Journalists were 10 times more likely to die than the 250,000 American or British soldiers. Their stories range from adrenaline-fuelled life on the front line, where “covering the war was the great, pure, authentic experience of my career. I was in the enchanted forest,” through to the hilariously dull accounts of life in US Central Command in Qatar, where “the profoundly interesting thing … is that nothing happened.” One element which runs through Embedded’s mosaic of memories is the inherent sense that these journalists wanted “to be a part of history as it happened.” For Askari, on the other hand, history is imposed on her unwittingly as she reveals the vicariousness of life as a journalist under Hussein, at first feted for her writing only to find herself locked up for the false accusation that members of her staff are printing anti-regime flyers.

      Ultimately, what these three books have most in common, beside geography, is an abiding sense of the futility of conflict, as well as an underlying uneasiness that this war will not be the last. Swofford concludes his memoir with the heartbreaking lament, “Some wars are unavoidable and need well be fought but this doesn’t erase warfare’s waste. Sorry, we must say to the mothers whose sons will die horribly. This will never end. Sorry.” For Askari, however, a witness to so many mothers’ tears, she is able to find a prayer in place of an apology. “This was only the second time in the history of modern Iraq that a blank page had been opened in the nation’s book … Mayada gazed to the east as she prayed, ‘May Allah guide the hand that writes on that blank page.'” One can only hope, for Mayada’s and Iraq’s sake, that her prayers are answered.

      Ali Jaafar is a writer based in London with the British Film Institute and is a regular contributor to The Daily Star

  38. jeansasson says:

    Hi Keshab, I have not seen any research or a thesis on this book, although there well may be… There was a lot of literary reviews on the book. I’ll look to see if I can find them — might even be online. I’ll be back with you via

  39. Keshab Pun says:

    Dear Author I got your mail and I did response too. Thank you very much. I will be always continue….

    Keshab Pun

  40. jeansasson says:

    Dear Keshab Pun: Please do send me five questions directed to Mayada herself. No one can answer better than she can, and this way you have a primary source for your paper, the victim herself, a woman who knows more about Iraq and the issues there with relationship to innocent people imprisoned. If you choose to do this, send your questions to me at and I will ask Mayada to respond to you directly. She would not want to do this online in a public forum, however. Thank you very much, Jean

  41. Hello, I m Lakshmi from India. I have read all your books and I m a great fan of yours. No one but you,can only bring the life of middle east woman into limelight. While Reading every page of the book, I felt like the scene ia unfolding in front of me.Specially the princess triology. Such a beautiful choice of words and an interesting narration. Growing up bin laden, is another masterpiece. Now completed with Mayada,daughter of Iraq. Looking to read love in a torn land soon. Just a curious question. Did mayada ever met Samara or any shadow woman for the case ? Is princess sultana ‘s identity still preserved ? Hoping to hear from you. Warm Regards !!!!!!

    • jeansasson says:

      Thanks, so much! I’m so happy that you liked the way I told Princess Sultana’s true life story. And, that you appreciate GROWING UP BIN LADEN. I so admired Omar and his mother — two very brave and honest people.

      No, Mayada did not ever see the shadow women again although she made a number of attempts, but Iraq broke up and people were scattered everywhere. We only hope that they are alive and well… Thank you, so much! YES, the princess identity is still unknown to all but her immediate family. And, warmest wishes to you, too!

  42. sahiba says:

    Do you have a Gmail account

  43. rumbidzai says:

    I am rumbi , from Africa , Zimbabwe . I am.thirteen years old My mum bought your book. (Daughter of Iraq) and I was so intrigued by it I decided to read it . I finished it in a day .it was sad and simultaneously eye-opening

  44. Angelika says:

    You are incredibly talented writer who accomplished a truly honorable mission -spreading the truth and fostering awakening of people all around the world. Thank you for sharing stories that shape the world’s vision of realities that women face in the Middle East.
    I read Princess when I was just 11 years old and that affected my life in various ways. I have decided I wanted to fight for human rights and study Middle East on academic level doing my masters.
    I am 23 now and you are one of my biggest inspirations. My background is Afghan and I feel the pain of strong women you tell us about.
    Unfortunately, media can be corrupted but your books help shed the light of truth. Thank you so much for everything you do❤️
    Wish you all the best!

    • jeansasson says:

      Thank you, Angelika, for this lovely communication. I am so pleased that the books I write affected your life in such a positive manner. My apologies for so long in replying but for some reason your note was thrown into the spam file and I just found it today. Please feel free to write to me at — I would love to hear from more about your life. And, I wish you every good thing! Jean

    • jeansasson says:

      Hi Angelika, Sorry for the LONG delay but family illness has kept me off of social media, including my own! I would love for you to write to me personally at If you do so, I will respond. Thank you again, Jean Sasson (Sending you good wishes and a big hug)

  45. Maryam says:

    Hello Jean. How are you? I hope you’re doing well.
    I just recently finished Mayada book and i wondered what happened to all shadow women in cell 52? Did they survive? Did Mayada managed to see them again?

    Thank you so much for writing such amazing books. I have read princess trilogy and Mayada and i am so thrilled by your fascinating writing. style.

    • jeansasson says:

      Hi Maryam, Mayada tried to contact the women through the telephone numbers they had provided — of course, in the beginning when Mayada attempted to do so in the beginning it was to talk to their families — Most hung up the phone, terrified that their phones were being tapped. After the 2003 war, the country was in such a state of confusion that it is impossible to contact anyone as families were fleeing from one neighborhood to the next. Thus, all of Mayada’s attempts were in vain. Then Mayada moved to Jordan and then to Dubai, so she lost touch with most things Iraq… I’m sorry not to have better news…

  46. Shaakirah says:

    Hello ^^

    I literally just finished reading Mayada Daughter of Iraq! It was a gift given to me by my best friend as she knows i love a good book. It is such a beautiful and powerful story. I truly loved it. I searched abit more about Mayada Al Askari and unfortunately found out that she passed away of cancer. May Allah grant her paradise. Although i can’t help but wonder if Mayada was reunited with Samara or any of the Shadow women before she died. That would be nice to know, thank you. I loved this book and definitely want to give your other books a try. You are one great author.

    • jeansasson says:

      Hi Shaakirah, Thanks so much for your comment. I’m so pleased that you support Mayada’s story — yes, it was a tragic end — she was too young to leave this earth and I miss her every day of my life. Mayada made a lot of telephone calls to the families after she was released from prison, but the relatives who answered the phones were terrified that it was a trick from Saddam’s cruel enforcers, and Mayada said that she was only able to speak a few moments and then the family members would hang up. After the invasion of Iraq, Mayada tried once more to contact the families (she always kept those phone numbers she memorized) but by that time the entire infrastructure was destroyed or simply no longer working, or so many Iraqis had moved. We found out from an American soldier that the entire prison was bulldozed but that neighbors reported that buses came to pick up the prisoners a few days prior to the invasion of Kuwait — no one knows if all those prisoners were taken out to the desert to be executed, or if they were taken away to be released. All of us who came to know those amazing women through Mayada will never forget them. I always hope that someone will contact my publisher — Mayada translated the book I wrote into Arabic and it is available in the Arab world, so perhaps the right person — one of those women — or family members, may one day solve the mystery that haunts us all — DID THE SHADOW WOMEN SURVIVE???

      Thank you again, Jean Sasson

    • jeansasson says:

      Thank you so much, Shaakirah! I really love hearing from readers regarding the books I write. Yes, the saddest of all was losing my “Mimi” in 2015. I miss her every day — she was my dearest friend. Sadly, Mayada was never reunited with Samara or any of the Shadow Women. She tried all the phone numbers and some were answered by family members but they hung up in fear it was a SADDAM TRICK to get them thrown into prison if they talked against the regime for imprisoning their loved ones. Then, after the invasion in 2003, everyone in Iraq was on the move and Mayada was unable to trace her cellmates, which was of the greatest sorrow to her as she truly cared about those women — we fear they were murdered a week prior to the US invasion because people who lived near the prison reported that about a week or 10 days prior to the invasion that buses arrived at the prison and all the inmates were loaded up and taken where, no one knows. It was Saddam’s habit to have prisoners murdered before they could be released, so that is our fear. Mayada’s story was released in Arabic so we are always hopeful that someone will contact us when they read about themselves. Thanks, again, for writing and I hope you get to read about my other heroines… All are amazing women.

    • jeansasson says:

      Thanks so much, Shaakirah… So happy you support the women I write about, and yes, Mayada was a most special woman and one of my dearest friends in the world. I miss her every day. And, sorry to tell you that although she tried, she was unable to locate the women who shared her cell — there were many reasons that made it difficult, but it was a great sorrow to Mayada that she failed to see those women again… Thanks, again!

  47. Deepanshee Bhugra says:

    I have always been a super huge fan of your works. I’ve read of most of your books multiple times and I just finished reading Mayada for the third and I’m still disturbed with the same question whether Mayada found the other shadow women or she didn’t? What happened to the women in cell 52? Were they ever rescued or were they tortured to death?

    • jeansasson says:

      Hi, this is Jean Sasson. Yes, your reaction is the same as most others who read the book — their complete concern about the Shadow Women who shared Mayada’s cell. While Mayada did call their families once released from prison, she was disappointed that most of the women’s families hung up on her out of fear it was a trick from the security police. Then, after the war in 2003, Mayada tried again, but everyone in Iraq was on the move. But I heard from an American soldier who had read Mayada’s story and went to the prison only to find that it had been leveled. Then, that same soldier interviewed neighbors surrounding the prison and was told that all the prisoners were removed from the prison and put in buses and driven away about a week before the USA invaded in 2003. So, we do not know what happened to the women, but we do fear that the ones who were still in that prison (Mayada left the prison in 1999, and the war was in 2003, so hopefully during that four year period, some of the women were released.) Thanks for caring — thanks for asking — and I apologize that we do not have any concrete information to give you — should we ever hear from any of the women, we will announce it for all to know. Thank you, again… Jean Sasson

  48. Benila says:

    Hi mam,
    I am a 24 years old girl from South India. Currently, I am doing research in your works. I have taken the Princess trilogy and it’s three sequel for my thesis. I would like to stay in touch with you. I need your help too. Is it possible, mam??

  49. jeansasson says:

    Dear Benila — Not sure if your note showed up — please try again at and hopefully I will receive it there. Thank you.

    • Benila says:

      Respected mam- I was little busy for the last few days that’s why I couldn’t reply on time. Sorry for being late. Hope u r doing good, mam? I mailed u again just now…waiting for your reply.
      Thanking you,

  50. Hi Jean! My name is Mirika and I’m from India. It’s safe to say that I aspire to be you. But I really, really, really need to know if Mayada ever saw Samara again, this is killing me!

    • jeansasson says:

      Dear Mirika, I do so thank you for your note. You are too kind! I have sad news that although Mayada telephoned Samara’s family, they hung the phone up on her — probably frightened that it was Saddam’s Secret Police. So Mayada was never able to locate that lovely woman. And, after the war, one of the allied soldiers was kind enough to go to the prison but the prison had been razed and was nothing but rubble. Also, people who lived close to the prison told that soldier that a few days before the allied armies invaded in 2003 that many buses lined up in front of the prison and took the prisoners away. It is thought that they were taken to the desert to be executed but we do not KNOW that. But Samara was never found and all of us are so very sad to know this as the world admired and respected Samara for her strong personality and kind nature. We have HOPE that all the women survived, but there is no evidence to that effect. (Then, after the allied invasion, all of Iraq heated up and there was war and mayhem everywhere so that was a huge problem preventing us to finding any of those women — Most Iraqis were fleeing the country, as you know. Sad story….

    • jeansasson says:

      Dear Mirika, I do so thank you for your note. You are too kind! I have sad news that although Mayada telephoned Samara’s family, they hung the phone up on her — probably frightened that it was Saddam’s Secret Police. So Mayada was never able to locate that lovely woman. And, after the war, one of the allied soldiers was kind enough to go to the prison but the prison had been razed and was nothing but rubble. Also, people who lived close to the prison told that soldier that a few days before the allied armies invaded in 2003 that many buses lined up in front of the prison and took the prisoners away. It is thought that they were taken to the desert to be executed but we do not KNOW that. But Samara was never found and all of us are so very sad to know this as the world admired and respected Samara for her strong personality and kind nature. We have HOPE that all the women survived, but there is no evidence to that effect. (Then, after the allied invasion, all of Iraq heated up and there was war and mayhem everywhere so that was a huge problem preventing us to finding any of those women — Most Iraqis were fleeing the country, as you know. Sad story….

  51. Simon Clayton says:

    Hi i am too old to bother figuring if this is a public comment or private anyway if you are still a writer i need some help. A story to write or help write or get written and filmed (film is objective). I have written a public blogpost describing what its about….plus a compliment for you …big one. and i am a big book man all my life Simon

    • jeansasson says:

      Hi, this is a private site but I rarely come on it due to the chaotic nature of my life at this time. Thanks for your compliment. I wish I could help but at this time I am caught up with family matters plus finishing my memoir. I want you to know that I am wishing you the very best. Just sit down and write every day and try to get 5 pages and before you know it, you’ll have a book! All the best to you, Simon. Jean Sasson

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  53. Pam says:

    I have thoroughly enjoyed all the Princess books, and I am looking forward to the last book of the series Princess: Stepping out of the Shadows. I have listened to them all on audiobook, however I am unable to find the last one on audiobook. Will it be released on audiobook? I love to read, but I have an eye condition that prevents me from reading as much as I would like, so I find it easier to listen instead . Also, I am a librarian and I have recommended the Princess series to many, many of our patrons.

    Thank you for writing this series. I have gained much understanding of life of women in Saudi Arabia . The narrator was absolutely amazing while giving the characters each a uniqueness with her beautiful voice. Thank you once again.

    • jeansasson says:

      Hello Pam, Thank you for writing and I appreciate your very kind words. Thank you also for recommending the books to patrons. Word of mouth is the best we can do for books! Pam, actually Stepping Out of the Shadows should be out in Audible. I will look on AMAZON to make sure but I believe this is the case. I hope you can find it easily. For now, have a wonderful day. Jean Sasson

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