Gaddafi's Harem: The Story of a Young Woman and the Abuses of Power in Libya

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Open Road + Grove/Atlantic, 2013 M09 3 - 272 pages
This international bestseller is a “horrifying inside look at the lives of Libyan women under the Gaddafi regime . . . Powerful and compelling” (Booklist, starred review).
Soraya was just fifteen, a schoolgirl in the coastal town of Sirte, when she was given the honor of presenting a bouquet of flowers to Colonel Gaddafi, “the Guide,” on a visit he was making to her school the following week. This one meeting—a presentation of flowers, a pat on the head from Gaddafi—changed Soraya’s life forever. Soon afterwards, she was summoned to Bab al-Azizia, Gaddafi’s palatial compound near Tripoli, where she joined a number of young women who were violently abused, raped, and degraded by Gaddafi. Heart-wrenchingly tragic but ultimately redemptive, Soraya’s story is the first one of many that are just now beginning to be heard. But sex and rape remain the highest taboo in Libya, and women like Soraya (whose identity is protected by a pseudonym here) risk being disowned or even killed by their dishonored family members.
In Gaddafi’s Harem, an instant bestseller on publication in France, Le Monde special correspondent Annick Cojean gives a voice to Soraya’s story, and supplements her investigation into Gaddafi’s abuses of power through interviews with people who knew Soraya, as well as with other women who were abused by Gaddafi.
“A moving and disturbing wake-up call to the personal costs of totalitarianism.” —Publishers Weekly

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User Review  - michellebarton - LibraryThing

Shocking, shocking, shocking! Read full review

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User Review  - PeskyLibrary - LibraryThing

I read Gaddafi’s Harem, and what an eye opener it was! I think with any dictator that we have an idea about what goes on behind closed doors. I was not prepared for the depth and magnitude of his ... Read full review


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About the author (2013)

Annick Cojean, special correspondent for Le Monde, is one of France’s most widely admired journalists. She chairs the committee for the Prix Albert Londres, the French equivalent of the Pulitzer Prize, and won the prize herself in 1996. She is the author of several books.

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