Stolen Lives: Twenty Years in a Desert Jail (Oprah's Book Club)

Fitoussi, Michele,Oufkir, Malika

Published by Hyperion Books, 2002
ISBN 10: 0786886307 / ISBN 13: 9780786886302
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Synopsis: A gripping memoir that reads like a political thriller--the story of Malika Oufkir's turbulent and remarkable life. Born in 1953, Malika Oufkir was the eldest daughter of General Oufkir, the King of Morocco's closest aide. Adopted by the king at the age of five, Malika spent most of her childhood and adolescence in the seclusion of the court harem, one of the most eligible heiresses in the kingdom, surrounded by luxury and extraordinary privilege.

Then, on August 16, 1972, her father was arrested and executed after an attempt to assassinate the king. Malika, her five younger brothers and sisters. and her mother were immediately imprisoned in a desert penal colony. After fifteen years, the last ten of which they spent locked up in solitary cells, the Oufkir children managed to dig a tunnel with their bare hands and make an audacious escape. Recaptured after five days, Malika was finally able to leave Morocco and begin a new life in exile in 1996.

A heartrending account in the face of extreme deprivation and the courage with which one family faced its fate, Stolen Lives is an unforgettable story of one woman's journey to freedom.

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.

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Title: Stolen Lives: Twenty Years in a Desert Jail ...
Publisher: Hyperion Books
Publication Date: 2002
Binding: Paperback
Book Condition: Good

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