How an American Woman Found Her Way Through Politics, Love, and Obedience in the Middle East


  • Free Press | 
  • 272 pages | 
  • ISBN 9780743291842 | 
  • February 2011
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See Life Through an Arab Leader's Wife's Eyes with Deborah Kanafani

American Deborah Kanafani talks about her life in the Middle East and her friendships with the wives of Arab leaders.

Reading Group Guide

Deborah Kanafani is a Lebanese-American woman, born and raised in New York. In her 20s, she was swept into the world of high-powered diplomats and dignitaries, marrying the handsome and charismatic Palestinian Marwan Kanafani, a former soccer star for the Egyptian national team who was then the director of the Arab League and who would go on to become Yasir Arafat's chief advisor. But Marwan Kanafani was a traditional Middle Eastern man, and as his wife, Deborah Kanafani was compelled to give up her friends and American sense of independence, dividing her time between Washington, D.C., and the Middle East, attending posh parties with world leaders but always kept on the sidelines.
The happiest part of the 14 years she was married, aside from her two children, was that along the way, Deborah Kanafani became friends with many of the wives of the high-powered men her husband worked with. Raymonda Tawil, a glamorous, fiercely independent older Palestinian woman who had been trying to create a dialogue with the Israelis for years. Her rebellious daughter, Suha, would secretly marry Arafat and become a close friend as well. Queen Dina of Jordan was King Hussein's first wife, before Queen Noor, and was a role model after whom Deborah named her own daughter.
But 14 years into the marriage, Deborah broke free from her traditional husband something a woman in the Middle East does not have the right to do.
Then, in 1997, in the midst o see more

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