Excerpt from Inside The Kingdom by Carmen Bin Ladin, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Inside The Kingdom

My Life in Saudi Arabia

by Carmen Bin Ladin

Inside The Kingdom by Carmen Bin Ladin
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Jul 2004, 224 pages
    Paperback:
    Jun 2005, 224 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
BookBrowse Review Team

Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt


Of all of us, it was Najia who focused most on the suffering of the World Trade Center's victims. She couldn't bear to watch TV most of the time. Her name was becoming public currency: This was particularly hard to bear for such a private person. Najia is perhaps the most discreet of all my children. She doesn't display her emotions easily, but I could see she was stricken.

The terrible irony was that we identified, and grieved, with the victims, while the outside world saw us as aggressors. We were trapped in a Kafkaesque situation—particularly Wafah. After four years of law school, Wafah's life was in New York. Her apartment was just blocks from the World Trade Center. She talked night and day about her friends there; she felt she had to be in New York, and wanted to fly back immediately.

Then one newspaper reported that Wafah had been tipped off: She had, they said, fled New York just days before the attack. This was untrue. Wafah had been with me, in Switzerland, since June. But other papers picked up the story. They said Wafah had known in advance about the attack, and had done nothing to protect the people and the home that she loved.

A friend who was staying in Wafah's New York apartment called: She had begun receiving death threats. It was an understandable reaction—how could strangers distinguish one Bin Laden from another?

I felt I had no choice. I alone could defend my daughters. I issued a statement saying that my three girls and I had had no connection whatsoever with this evil, barbaric attack on America, a country we loved and whose values we shared and admired. I went on TV. I wrote to the newspapers to express our sorrow. My long battle to free myself and my children from the ideals of Saudi Arabia was all the evidence I could offer for our innocence: that, and our goodwill, and the pain we felt for Osama's victims.

I had so longed for an end to my bitter fight against the Bin Ladens and their country. But now I faced a whole new struggle. I would have to shepherd my children through the anguish they felt as their name became synonymous with evil, infamy, and death.

My private life had become a public story.


IRONICALLY, IT WAS ONLY AFTER SEPTEMBER 11 THAT my fourteen-year fight for freedom from Saudi Arabia made sense to the people around me. Before that, I think no one truly understood what was at stake—not the courts, not the judge, not even my friends. Even in my own country, Switzerland, I was perceived, more or less, as just another woman embroiled in a nasty international divorce.

But I always knew that my fight went far deeper than that. I was fighting to gain freedom from one of the most powerful societies and families in the world—to salvage my daughters from a merciless culture that denied their most basic rights. In Saudi Arabia they could not even walk alone in the street, let alone choose the path of their own lives. I fought to free them from the hard-core fundamentalist values of Saudi Arabian society, and its contempt for the tolerance and liberty of the West, which I have learned to value deeply.

I am afraid that even today, the West does not fully understand Saudi Arabia and its rigid value system. For nine years, I lived inside the powerful Bin Laden clan, with its close and complex links to the royal family. My daughters went to Saudi schools. I lived, to a great extent, the life of a Saudi woman. And over time, I learned and analyzed the mechanisms of that opaque society, and the harsh and bitter rules that it enforces on its daughters.

I could not stand quietly by while my little girls' bright minds were extinguished. I could not teach them to submit to the values of Saudi Arabia. I could not watch them be branded as rebels because of the Western values that I taught them—despite all the punishment that might ensue. And were they to comply with Saudi society, I could not face the prospect that my daughters might grow up to become like the faceless, voiceless women I lived among.

Copyright © 2004 by Carmen Bin Ladin.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten!

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Good Me Bad Me
    Good Me Bad Me
    by Ali Land
    Is a psychopath born or made? This is the terrifying question that author Ali Land explores in her ...
  • Book Jacket: Five-Carat Soul
    Five-Carat Soul
    by James McBride
    In the short story "Sonny's Blues," from the 1965 collection Going to Meet the Man, African-...
  • Book Jacket: This Blessed Earth
    This Blessed Earth
    by Ted Genoways
    For the Hammonds, a farming family in Nebraska, the 2014 harvest season started with a perfect storm...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
All the Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood

"A powerful, provocative debut ... Intelligent, honest, and unsentimental." - Kirkus, starred review

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Seven Days of Us
    by Francesca Hornak

    A warm, wry debut novel about a family forced to spend a week together over the holidays.
    Reader Reviews

Win this book!
Win The Wisdom of Sundays

The Wisdom of Sundays
by Oprah Winfrey

Life-changing insights from super soul conversations.

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

A Good M I H T F

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.