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Stolen Lives: Twenty Years in a Desert Jail

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9780756763343: Stolen Lives: Twenty Years in a Desert Jail
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Malika Oufkir has spent virtually her whole life as a prisoner. Born in 1953, the eldest daughter of General Oufkir, the King of Morocco's closest aide, Malika was adopted by the King at the age of five, and was brought up as the companion to his little daughter. Spending most of her childhood and adolescence in the seclusion of the court harem, Malika was one of the most eligible heiresses in the kingdom, surrounded by luxury and extraordinary privilege.

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Review:

At the age of 5, Malika Oufkir, eldest daughter of General Oufkir, was adopted by King Muhammad V of Morocco and sent to live in the palace as part of the royal court. There she led a life of unimaginable privilege and luxury alongside the king's own daughter. King Hassan II ascended the throne following Muhammad V's death, and in 1972 General Oufkir was found guilty of treason after staging a coup against the new regime, and was summarily executed. Immediately afterward, Malika, her mother, and her five siblings were arrested and imprisoned, despite having no prior knowledge of the coup attempt.

They were first held in an abandoned fort, where they ate moderately well and were allowed to keep some of their fine clothing and books. Conditions steadily deteriorated, and the family was eventually transferred to a remote desert prison, where they suffered a decade of solitary confinement, torture, starvation, and the complete absence of sunlight. Oufkir's horrifying descriptions of the conditions are mesmerizing, particularly when contrasted with her earlier life in the royal court, and many graphic images will long haunt readers. Finally, teetering on the edge of madness and aware that they had been left to die, Oufkir and her siblings managed to tunnel out using their bare hands and teaspoons, only to be caught days later. Her account of their final flight to freedom makes for breathtaking reading. Stolen Lives is a remarkable book of unfathomable deprivation and the power of the human will to survive.

About the Author:

Malika Oufkir lives in Paris. Michele Fitoussi, who cowrote Stolen Lives, is a French journalist who writes regularly for French Elle.

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