Book Review- Mayada, Daughter of Iraq

An unassuming innocent mother of two, Mayada Al-Askari, ran her Iraqi printing business smoothly until one day she was seized by Saddam’s secret police and thrown into his notorious torture jail, falsely accused of printing anti-government pamphlets. Author Jean Sasson chronicles this woman’s survival in Baladiyat, the torture jail.

Here she is locked up in a cell with other women in-mates known as the ‘shadow women’ who support each other in times of strife, indeed proving that misery loves company. In the grime and darkness that is cell 52, they share stories of their lives and what might have been, bonding over their ill fate.

Mayada soon learns  that it is more painful to hear others being tortured than being tortured oneself. Guards used rape as a brutal punishment against both men and women in Baladiyat, something Mayada herself witnesses. Prisoners screech as they are beaten, whipped, electrocuted and when their fingernails are savagely ripped out. This book is raw and riveting, narrating the harsh reality of Saddam’s regime in Iraq and how easily the law could be bent in his favour whenever he so desired.

I’d recommend this book to one and all, except perhaps the faint-hearted for the gruesome details in the book can be quite hard to digest. It makes one wonder how anyone could have survived such a thing.


2 thoughts on “Book Review- Mayada, Daughter of Iraq”

  1. What a great review! Really enjoyed it because it’s about my favorite author, Jean Sasson and it was so insightful. I have found Jean Sasson’s books to be extremely educational and inspiring. Over the last 5 or 6 years I have read all of her books because I have such an interest in the Middle East and she is such an expert on the subject. There is even a new book written naming Jean Sasson “A New Orientalist”. Here is an article about it if anyone is interested:

    1. Thank you! I The fact that Jean Sasson writes about real women and their lives is commendable. I’m also really interested in the Middle East and some of the books that have really touched me are about this part of the world. They really make you see things in perspective. Thanks for the article, I’m reading it now 🙂

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