Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Rape of Kuwait - Jean Sasson

Summary:  At dawn, on August 2, 1990, Iraq's troops stormed across the Kuwaiti border, collapsing the goverment of its tiny neighbor in a matter of hours.  The brutality with which this illegal invasion was carried out -- and the atrocities to which the Kuwaiti population are subject on a dailiy basis -- will shock the world.

Jean P. Sasson traveled to Saudi Arabia, Egypt, England, and the U.S. to gather firsthand accoutns of the invasion and its aftermath from stunned and angry refugees.  From exiled members of the ruling family, resistance fighters, medical professionals, wives, and mothers, she heard startling tales of terror:  Infants torn from incubators and left to die on hosptial floors.  Women savagely raped.  Refugees shot in the back of the head as they attempted to escape through the desert.

The Rape of Kuwait presents these eyewitness stories, which bring to light for the first time the extent of the crimes committed against the nation's civilian population.  A shocking indictment of the Iraqi military, this book will increase the world's understanding of Saddam Hussein -- and raise the frightening question of what he might do next.  (Summary from book - Image from www.jeansasson.com )

My Review:  I have always been fascinated by the Middle East and have read several books by Jean Sasson, including Princess: Life Behind the Veil in Saudi Arabia, Princess Sultana's Daughters, Princess Sultana's Circle, and Mayada, Daughter of Iraq: One Woman's Survival Under Saddam Hussein.  I highly recommend any of these books, as each was deeply compelling and related the difficult, but remarkable, experiences of women living in the Middle East.

The Rape of Kuwait was written quickly, between August 2, 1990, when the Iraqi military invaded Kuwait, and January 17, 1991, when the U.S. and its allies stepped in to help liberate the country.  Sasson freely admits that her purpose for writing this book was to let the world know exactly what was going on in Kuwait and to encourage international intervention.  Published just before the U.S. became involved, it reached #2 on the NYT Bestseller list and, according to Wikipedia, the Kuwaiti Embassy even paid to have 200,000 copies shipped to U.S. troops in the Persian Gulf.

Except for a brief history of Kuwait, which I found incredibly helpful, this book is comprised almost entirely of first-hand accounts of the atrocities committed by the Iraqi military against the citizens of Kuwait.  I don't think I can possibly convey my horror at the depth of cruelty perpetrated by the invading army and condoned by its leaders.  Though it occurred over twenty years ago, I am sickened by their actions and haunted by the people whose lives were cut short, whose stories might never be told. 

Throughout the book, Sasson questions what Saddam will do next.  It was haunting to read these statements, knowing that so much more cruelty was to come, not only for Kuwaiti's trapped inside Iraq, but for Kurds, and for Iraq's own people.  I ran the gamut of negative emotions while reading this book: sadness, anger, frustration, etc., but there was one positive emotion that stood out.  Relief.  Saddam Hussein is dead, and I am relieved (and even, though I'm not terribly proud of it, a little bit glad).

The Rape of Kuwait is a shocking and painful description of violence committed by the Iraqi military, but it is also a tale of a beloved nation that fought to regain its freedom from a grasping, predatorial dictator.  I was continuously impressed by the love and loyalty of the Kuwaiti people, the nation's generous humanitarian donations, wise financial investments, and their determination to rebuild.

I don't usually read books like this, but when I do I am rarely sorry.  I feel a sense of purpose, like reading them can somehow give these people a voice, so that even twenty years later their sacrifice is not forgotten.  If you think you can handle it, and maybe even if you think you can't, I recommend picking up a book like this one. 

My Rating: 4 Stars

For the sensitive reader:  Each account is graphic in its own way, though not in a glorified or overly detailed sense. 
Sum it up:  These accounts are horrible, bloody, tragic, and terrifying, but they are also true, and they deserve to be read.

12 comments:

MindySue said...

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Princess Sultana of Saudi Arabia said...

READERS BEWARE!!! THE RAPE OF KUWAIT book should have been withdrawn from book shelves a long time ago because it is a propaganda book of lies which was written by American hoax author Jean Sasson in return for large amounts of $ollars from the government of Kuwait. Kuwait's Ambassador paid Sasson a tidy sum for the lies in that book in order to win minds and hearts of people for Kuwait during the first gulf war 'DESERTSTORM'. If you do a little research you too will find the truth behind this book. Jean Sasson is the pioneer when it comes to writing lies. GOOGLE: THE PRINCESS SULTANA HOAX to find out more home truth about this fake of a writer.

MindySue said...

Uh-huh. When I googled "Princess Sultana Hoax" all I found is one poorly written blog and several different websites where anonymous commenters (like yourself, because we both know you aren't Princess Sultana of Saudia Arabia) have left their own inflammatory rants about this book. These comments seem filled with personal bias and private agenda, rather than any actual facts. I think, especially with the more we uncover abuout the cruelty of Saddam Hussein's regime, that I'm going to side with Ms. Sasson. But thanks.

MindySue said...

If you're about to lend any creedence to the allegations above, please visit http://www.jeansasson.com to read about stalkers and frivolous lawsuits.

Lucky for me I just emailed Jean Sasson. We're tight like that. Her explanation was more than sufficient.

sanjk said...

hi mindy !
i have been longing for the book "rapes of Kuwait " i have read all the other books written by JS , just this book is not at all available in India. can you help . if yes then write me back at khabya_sanjari_jn@yahoo.com
i would really appreciate your help .

MindySue said...

ATTENTION: This is not a political blog. It pains me to have to block anonymous commenters, and moderate comments, but any comments unrelated to this book, especially those that are politically inflamatory will be deleted.

Jean Sasson said...

Hi MindySue, Thanks for being the kind of responsible person who checks things out. That's rare these days -- even the media reprints rumors, shockingly enough. Anyway, I was happy to read your review of RAPE. That was a terrible time and many innocent people died. I went into Kuwait within a few days of the war's end and followed up on a lot of the stories -- in my own memoirs I'll tell some of what I discovered. I'll never forget the parents of Kuwaiti kids who were taken from the streets and kidnapped to Iraq (when Iraqi military was fleeing Kuwait before the war started)waiting for the buses bringing the kidnapped victims home. Not all returned, leaving heartbroken parents and wives waiting lonely and lost. SO SAD... Thanks, again... Jean Sassson

MindySue said...

Thanks Jean,
Let us know when your memoir comes out. We'd love to review it. Though it might have to wait till I'm significantly post-partum. Not sure if I could take it right now...

Princess Sultana of Saudi Arabia said...

Hi MindySue, You might like to look up:

"The Phoney Princess" on Amazon.com book, it claryfies the none existance of Jean Sasson's "Princess" trilogy.
A likewise educational expose book is "Soft Weapons" by Prof. Gillian Whitlock.

MindySue said...

Are we really going to do this again? Well, "Princess" I appreciate the book recommendations. I think, perhaps, your recommendation might lend more weight if you hadn't written and published it yourself. Google is a powerful thing, my dear. For example, it tells me that you are Ms. Sasson
s rather unstable stalker, who is disappointed to have lost what the judge called a "frivolous" and "objectively unreasonable" plagiarism lawsuit and will not let it go.

For Ms. Sasson's explanation readers can visit: http://www.jeansasson.com/about/Frivolous-Lawsuits-and-stalkers-20110330.pdf

I've tried to be patient, but I will no longer give you or your grudges and delusions voice in this forum. Further posts will not be approved.

Anonymous said...

Life isn't ''difficult'' or ''remarkable'' from women in Kuwait. You can wear whatever you want to wear, drive, vote, work in every field, be an MP in the parliament, basically do anything. Many Kuwaitis women wear tank tops and short shorts in Kuwait actually. It's becoming quite the norm among the youth. Hijab isn't that widespread among Kuwaiti nationals either, yes it's popular but many don't wear it. I guess it's more widespread among non-Kuwaiti Muslim nationals like Pakistanis and Egyptians.

I don't know where you got the impression that life is difficult and remarkable for women in Kuwait.

Kuwait is NO Saudi Arabia.

MindySue said...

Anonymous,
I hope I didn't offend! If you read the review closely, I was referring to the author's other books, The Sultana Series,that are about the lives of women in Saudia Arabia. I read "Rape of Kuwait" because I liked those books and was just referring to her tendency to write, and my interest in, books about the Middle East. I appreciate what you have to say about the Kuwaiti people and I think that my review was rather positive in that regard.

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