Zainab Salbi was eleven years old when her father was chosen to be Saddam Hussein's personal pilot and her family's life was grafted onto his. Her mother, the beautiful Alia, taught her daughter the skills she needed to survive. A plastic smile. Saying yes. Burying in boxes in her mind the horrors she glimpsed around her. "Learn to erase your memories," she instructed. "He can read eyes."
In this richly visual memoir, Salbi describes tyranny as she saw it - through the eyes of a privileged child, a rebellious teenager, a violated wife, and ultimately a public figure fighting to overcome the skill that once kept her alive: silence.
Between Two Worlds is a riveting quest for truth that deepens our understanding of the universal themes of power, fear, sexual subjugation, and the question one generation asks the one before it: How could you have let this happen to us?
The question "why did they stay?" haunts this engrossing memoir, as Salbi shows how Saddam Hussein "managed to make decent people like parents complicit in their own oppression." "Growing up in Baghdad," the author remembers, "was probably not unlike growing up in an American suburb," but then Salbi's father became Saddam's private pilot. Gradually, the man who treated her like a niece became a man she called " 'Amo' not out of affection, but because I was afraid to say his name Saddam Hussein out loud." Interspersed with Salbi's memories are her mother's recollections of imposed visits from and disquieting parties with Saddam. These riveting passages reveal a self-absorbed man who, as Salbi comes to understand, "saw no conflict between feeling fondness for people and killing them." Making a physical escape from Iraq was easy a marriage was arranged in the U.S. to an abusive husband (from whom Salbi also had to escape) compared with making the new life that culminated in founding Women for Women International, an organization that assists women victimized by war. Books to come will offer more historical and statistical data, but this may be the most honest account of life within Saddam's circle so far; not a rebel's account, although Salbi is certainly a dissident, rather, it's an enlightening revelation of how, by barely perceptible stages, decent people make accommodations in a horrific regime.
What an eye opening book. Interesting read