Not Without My Daughter

Not Without My Daughter Fierce, Frightening, and Real This was a 500 book that I finished within the span of two days. This autobiography will make your soul weep It is a MUST READ.This story completely took my breath away There aren t enough words to describe the suffering and heartache of the human condition in Not Without My Daughter For those of you who aren t familiar with the story, I ll provide a very brief overview Betty Mahmoody agrees to visit Iran with her husband, Moody, and daughter, Mahtob, despite niggling thoughts to the contrary Once there, Betty finds herself suffocated among a repressive environment that devalues women Looking forward to their return home, Betty and Mahtob are shocked and dismayed when Moody reveals they will not be boarding the plane as planned In fact, their new home, will be in Iran.I will never forget this autobiography Betty Mahmoody showed an astounding level of courage in the face of adversity I can t imagine being in her shoes She was truly an example of a Mama bear There was nothing that Moody could have said or done to force Betty into submission She endured violent abuse from her husband, isolation, and horrible culture shock all the while, she never stopped planning and plotting.I m simply amazed of what one can accomplish when truly forced up against a wall I think. if you want something bad enough, no one can stop you from achieving your goal As Betty s father said. Where there s a will. There s a way. The untruths begin with the cover of the book, which features the image of a woman who is dressed in a manner which is decidedly not Iranian So, even before you have read a single word, you have been given an image that is not authentic.The book is carefully packaged to cater to the American people s fears and prejudices Also, the book isn t an isolated phenomenon It s a product of a veritable cottage industry of horror stories and black and white portrayals of Muslim societies Persepolis, Reading Lolita in Tehran, etcTake Norma Khoury s autobiographical book, Honor Lost Love and Death in Modern Day Jordan, which purports to be a first hand account by an Arab woman Turns out the author wasn t even in Jordan it s a complete fabrication Google Norma Khoury Why would anybody fabricate or, in the case of Not Without My Daughter, embellish such horror stories Because there s a market for it These books wouldn t sell as well otherwise If one of countless Muslim women who live fulfilling lives of achievement wrote a story in which religious Muslims didn t come across as demons, it would be simply discounted as propaganda there would be no market for it Only that which is considered true that conforms to the prejudices and stereotypes. I have read this book twice and it is my all time favorite book I first watched the movie one of those you catch by chance on a rainy day I thought it was good Then one day I saw the book and could not put it down I could not believe some of the things I was reading I was in shock This was probably around 1999 2000.The second time I read the book, probably around 2003 2004,I was reading it as an Iranian man s wife I still loved the book and this time I knew a whole lot about the culture.There are many things the author wrote about that are very typical of Iranian behavior, things that I have grown to love about the culture the best food, the love of tea, the strong family unit, the way they seem like they re arguing when they re talking My husband agreed that for the most part, it did represent the culture accurately Except for the uncleanliness part my husband s family are all very clean, almost afraid of germs With this book you have to keep in mind the time in which it takes place It s a time of turmoil and war Things were chaotic It was also written before things like the Internet.We all know Iran has its problems You can t base a whole culture on one crazy family Remember also, the people are just like us, but it s their government that has the guns and unfortunately, the fanatical people run the government.Sorry for such a long review, but I had a lot to say Read the book, it s great A brilliant expose of the horrors of the Islamic Republic of Iran Betty Mahmoudy recounts her experiences as a captive , with her daughter Mahtob, of her increasingly violent husband who keeps her a prisoner to stop her leaving the Islamic Republic.She is horrified by the unhygienic conditions of Iran and the total misogynistic lack of rights of women, and the violent anti American propaganda fed to the population She refuses offers to get out of this vile country unless she can take her daughter with her.A brilliant graphic expose of this tyranny Captures everything as if on camera.What disgusts me is how leftwing feminists demonize people who challenge Islam s oppression of women, proefering to side with the Islamists just because they are anti Western and anti Israel Would they want to live under these horrors and oppression A moving and inspiring story of of one woman s courage and determination to get her and her daughter to safety and escape from an abusive and tyrannical Iranian husband and father When Dr Moody takes his wife and five year old daughter Mahtob to Iran ostensibly on a two week vacation and then takes their passports and forces them to stay as he decides they will not return to America ever This is the terrifying account of their ordeal and escape to safety.I read this book when it was first released back in 2004 and only when re arranging a friend s bookshelves did we comes across this book and decided to give it a re read, we both were shocked and affected by the story when we read this book years ago but our memory was foggy on the details and felt a re read was due in order to discuss this one together It s still as shocking today as it was all those years ago, and while the story reads like a thriller and I found myself rooting for Betty and her daughter you have to remind yourself that this nightmare was Betty s reality at the time and certainly no thriller for her This is Betty s Mahmoody s account and its a terrifying account and ordeal for any woman and child to have gone through On my second reading I couldn t help wondering how damaging a book like this is was to Iranian society Of course you cannot tar a country and its people with the one brush but I am sure this caused quite a stir at the time I am really looking forward to the discussion on this one with my friend and while I enjoyed the read I did find this one was a little long but this might be the fact that it was a re read.An interesting and very readable book which would make an excellent bookclub choice. I can t believe people are still reading this book I read it years ago when it first came out and had a difficult time putting it down Not because it is great literature, or because it is an intelligent, thought provoking book about a culture few Americans take the time to learn about, but because William Hoffer is capable of writing a light, fast paced, adventurous story I felt Betty Mahmoody acted very irresponsibly She endangered her child by staying with a mentally unstable man, not to mention visiting a country she knows absolutely nothing about I have known and worked with several Iranians who are nothing at all like the characters portrayed in this book Reading this dreck only serves to promote ignorance and ill will towards a fascinating people Burn this book and read something intelligent You can argue about how negative and stereotyping this book is, how it helped to reinforce generalized preconceptions about the Iranians, how it didn t help to provide a better and accurate picture of the Iranian society to the an already hostile American public, how it was used by a sector of the American public and media who would happily jump on anything like this, how it was used by both sides as a political propaganda tool, etc I read this book not long after I left Iran I don t remember all the details, but let me tell you this There was not a single thing in the book that I could point my finger at and say this can t be true It is entirely plausible that everything that Betty is recounting is true, depending on her husband s social economic cultural religious background There were parts in the book that made me go this ain t so bad, sweetheart I ve seen worse Oh, and it s not all that rare to find people like Betty s in laws in Iran.Those Iranians who scream in a visceral reaction that this book is a bunch of lies are a worried about the consequences of others generalizing this book to every Iranian b personally, they think this book will make them look bad c jingoistic Persians who have a very high opinion of their homeland and take too much pride in the motherland but call themselves Persian to hide that they re Iranian d were born and or raised outside the country and have no clue about how the Iranian society in its entirety is e know this book can be true, but don t like a non Iranian waving their country s dirty laundry in front of the whole world f etc Some points are valid, but they still don t make this book a bunch of lies. My parents divorce wasn t the most amicable one out there, although you wouldn t know it because they re pretty good friends now At the time, my dad was living and working in Mexico as a surgeon, which meant that every other weekend found my brother and I listlessly cooped up in my dad s clinic in Zaragoza, a very poor community on the outskirts of Juarez People made their homes out of cinder blocks, durable cardboard, and any other supplies they could find It was like night and day compared to where we lived My dad s common law wife would take charge of our weekends when my dad was working which was most of the time , by zipping us all around Juarez any basic American excursion like grocery shopping, grabbing a pizza, going to the movies or park, was so different, but nonetheless fun Intermingled with that fun was the real fear that my dad wouldn t take us back home He had intimated as much to my mom during heated arguments before and after the divorce It was a scary time to be a six year old, so my mom taught us how to memorize landmarks and phone numbers, even directions on how to get back to the international bridge, and what to tell authorities if my dad ever got a fit of the crazies It never came to that, thank goodness, but films like Not Without My Daughter fascinated my grandparents, mom, brother and I We could seriously relate to the fear of being trapped in another country against your will That being said, last weekend I got an itch to arm chair travel to the Middle East, but couldn t for the life of me find my copy of The Kite Runner, a book I ve been avoiding since its publication Upset but still wanting to read about a foreign experience, I picked up the book Not Without My Daughter, and didn t put it down until I d read the last page of the epilogue Even if you ve seen the movie, the book really is another experience It was so amazing to get into Betty Mahmoody s mind, to read about her fears and doubts, which she had to keep to herself, in order to buoy up her daughter, Mahtob Although Alfred Molina plays the role of Betty s abusive Iranian husband well in the film, reading this book really made me realize just how far gone her husband was in real life Although a super intelligent and gifted doctor, he was a raving, abusive madman an equally cunning adversary.Most of the critical reviews of this book claim that Mahmoody is racist, intolerant of Islamic culture, and a liar Reading certain passages, I can see why some would say that However, just based on my own experiences, it s practically impossible to take in another culture without relating it to your own, or what you know As a Mexican American, there are a lot of things about Mexico that were are foreign to me, even unattractive I don t think that means that I am racist It s just a different way of life that for me, took some getting used to Culture shock within my culture, if you will At any rate, I loved that Betty took the time to explain Muslim holidays and customs, foods and their preparations, rules of etiquette, and even bureaucratic governmental policies I felt like I too was scuttling along the streets of Northern Tehran How she finally escapes, and the sympathetic friends she meets along the way will make your heart soar What a truly inspirational memoir I d like to first point out that I was born in Iran and spent the first six years of my life there We visited frequently until shortly after all the troubles started I ve never been back and I can t possibly imagine doing so I d rather keep the sweet memories that I had and not tarnish them with negative ones that I so often hear about When the movie, Not Without My Daughter came out back in 1991, I remember hearing that many of my fellow countrymen boycotted it They resented the fact that Iranians were portrayed negatively My cousin was one of them and he and I got into a bit of a heated discussion about this My point, and one that I still adhere to, was that this was Betty Mahmoody s experience and she should feel free to share it Personally, I thought that the movie was wonderful and it brought out all sorts of emotions in me Mind you, I only saw the movie that one time and it was enough My memory is now a bit jaded, but I m quite sure that the book is far better and can do justice, as is usually the case I wasn t even sure if I should bother reading this, but then I found a used copy at our monthly book swap and decided to read it after all I m delighted that I did It was compelling and I could hardly put it down, except when it got to be too painful at times and I needed an emotional break I would like to mention that I have never met any Iranians that are anything like Betty s former in laws, but doesn t mean that they re not out there The family was a crazy one to say the least extreme, fanatical, superstitious, and never mind disgusting with their hygiene but let s not go there Her husband was an absolute tyrant and her life had become a living hell Not all Iranians were shown in a negative light There were some incredible kind hearted individuals also, those who helped and befriended Betty in whatever way they could Those parts made me cry I think it s quite short sighted for anyone to delude themselves into thinking that she portrays all Iranians as bad people She most certainly does not She didn t even portray Islam in a negatively Yes, she has a problem with extremism and fanaticism and which reasonable minded person wouldn t But the reader soon sees that it s not Islam that she has a problem with, so the way it was enforced in that oppressive regime Betty s courage and bravery are to be admired and left me full of awe I simply cannot imagine having that sort of strength I ve known friends and family members who ve escaped the country much the same way that she did None of them were escaping a brutal husband Most did not have a young child to worry about Finally, every single one of them spoke Farsi The ones that I have known escaped due to religious or political persecution I m not trying to minimize their struggles, just saying that hers was quite unique and had its challenges also All in all, this book was an incredible read I m really looking forward to reading the sequel I like Betty so much, that I wish I knew her personally I just saw on that her daughter, Mahtob, has a book coming out soon. The undertone of racism permeated this book It was very hard to get through because of this While at times I did feel for the situation the author was in, it was hard to sympathize with her on other occasions because she just seemed so judgmental I understand she was angry and frustrated and had been through a lot it probably would have been a better book had she given it some space for perspective The story is no doubt interesting, but it could have been written better.