Between Two Worlds: Escape from Tyranny: Growing Up in the Shadow of Saddam Hussein, by Zainab Salbi 38

Zainab Salbi is the founder of Women for Women International, the organization that helps women in war torn countries rebuild their lives.  What Salbi didn’t tell the world until very recently is that she grew up in Saddam Hussein’s privileged world; her father had been Hussein’s pilot and her parents were his “friends”.

It should be no surprise to anyone in the West that Hussein didn’t have real friends.  He made associations with a glam crowd and terrorized them into catering to his every whim.  And then he just might kill them, anyway.

In an attempt to get Salbi away from Hussein (who was starting to look at her a certain way.  Ew!), her mother married her off to an Iraqi-American acquaintance who was a total nightmare.  Thankfully, she got away from him and rebuilt her life.  Totally alone in a foreign country.

In this book, Salbi tries to reconcile her memory with the reality of her childhood.  She described the nightmare her parents endured as just exactly like being in an abusive relationship.  You never know which man you are going to see that night.  Her father coped with Hussein’s..influence by drinking.  Her mother tried to kill herself a non-zero number of times.

Interestingly, Salbi says that she thinks she chose her line of work to avoid confronting her own past.  That helping women through their trauma somehow pushed her own away.  Of course, that doesn’t work forever, which is why we have this book.

I am glad I read it, and glad to participate in the work of Women for Women.

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