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Leap of Faith: Memoirs of an Unexpected Life PDF, ePub eBook


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Title: Leap of Faith: Memoirs of an Unexpected Life
Author: Noor Al-Hussein
Publisher: Published March 9th 2005 by Miramax Books (first published November 1st 2002)
ISBN: 9781401359485
Status : FREE Rating :
4.6 out of 5

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Leap of Faith is the dramatic and inspiring story of an American woman's remarkable journey into the heart of a man and his nation. Born into a distinguished Arab-American family and raised amid privilege, Lisa Halaby joined the first freshman class at Princeton to accept women, graduating in 1974 with a degree in architecture and urban planning. Two years later, while vis Leap of Faith is the dramatic and inspiring story of an American woman's remarkable journey into the heart of a man and his nation. Born into a distinguished Arab-American family and raised amid privilege, Lisa Halaby joined the first freshman class at Princeton to accept women, graduating in 1974 with a degree in architecture and urban planning. Two years later, while visiting her father in Jordan, she was casually introduced on the airport runway to King Hussein. Widely admired in the Arab world as a voice of moderation, and for his direct lineage to the prophet Muhammad, Hussein would soon become the world's most eligible bachelor after the tragic death of his wife. The next time they met, Hussein would fall headlong in love with the athletic, outspoken daughter of his longtime friend. After a whirlwind, secret courtship Lisa Halaby became Noor Al Hussein, Queen of Jordan. With eloquence and candor, Queen Noor speaks of the obstacles she faced as a naive young bride in the royal court, of rebelling against the smothering embrace of security guards and palace life, and of her own successful struggle to create a working role as a humanitarian activist in a court that simply expected Noor to keep her husband happy. As she gradually took on the mantle of a queen, Noor's joys and challenges grew. After a heartbreaking miscarriage, she gave birth to four children. Meshing the demands of motherhood with the commitments of her position often proved difficult, but she tried to keep her young children by her side, even while flying the world with her husband in his relentless quest for peace. This mission would reap satisfying rewards, including greater Arab unity and a peace treaty with Israel, and suffer such terrible setbacks as the Gulf War and the assassination of Prime Minister Rabin. Leap of Faith is a remarkable document. It is the story of a young American woman who became wife and partner to an Arab monarch. It provides a compelling portrait of the late King Hussein and his lifelong effort to bring peace to his war-torn region, and an insider's view of the growing gulf between the United States and the Arab nations. It is also the refreshingly candid story of a mother coming to terms with the demands the king's role as a world statesman placed on her family's private life. But most of all it is a love story — the intimate account of a woman who lost her heart to a king, and to his people.

30 review for Leap of Faith: Memoirs of an Unexpected Life

  1. 5 out of 5

    Joanne

    Psychologists assert that conflict resolution involves "perspective taking", that is, seeing the word through another's eyes. I was fascinated to read Queen Noor Al Hussein's (whose name was given to her by her husband King Hussein of Jordan when they married - it means "light of Hussein") account of her 20 year marriage, which spanned two decades of turmoil in the Middle East. Queen Noor was born and raised in the United States as Lisa Halaby. Her heritage is both Arab and European. Her vantage Psychologists assert that conflict resolution involves "perspective taking", that is, seeing the word through another's eyes. I was fascinated to read Queen Noor Al Hussein's (whose name was given to her by her husband King Hussein of Jordan when they married - it means "light of Hussein") account of her 20 year marriage, which spanned two decades of turmoil in the Middle East. Queen Noor was born and raised in the United States as Lisa Halaby. Her heritage is both Arab and European. Her vantage point for events in the region was Amman, Jordan and Aqaba - also in Jordan and bordering Israel. Her memoir weaves together history, political commentary, and the richness of family life. While I won't assert that her perspective on politcal and social events in the region is the "right" one (indeed, there can be no single "right" perspective, in my view), her unique experience is told with objectivity and compassion. Her account of Hussein's monarchy is also a story of a dedicated peacemaker, who became King when he was just 17 years old. Their influence spanned the globe, and Queen Noor's devotion to her adopted country's culture, education, health care and children is inspiring.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Jane

    Reading this book forced me to reconsider my opinion of the Camp David accords and the participants there. I have come to think of Carter, Begin, and Sadat as heroes (Sadat going on to sacrifice his life for his decision) and to consider the Jordanian position made me sadly aware of how superficially I understand the complexities of the whole mideast situation. She presents a strong argument for a balanced approach in the mideast and shows that the US often favors Israel unfairly over Arab state Reading this book forced me to reconsider my opinion of the Camp David accords and the participants there. I have come to think of Carter, Begin, and Sadat as heroes (Sadat going on to sacrifice his life for his decision) and to consider the Jordanian position made me sadly aware of how superficially I understand the complexities of the whole mideast situation. She presents a strong argument for a balanced approach in the mideast and shows that the US often favors Israel unfairly over Arab states. Her husband's struggles on behalf of peace are well documented. The recent Nobel Peace Prize to Obama as one who approaches the Muslim world with open arms makes more sense in view of her views. On a more personal level I certainly admire the way this young woman bravely threw herself into a marriage with a man who already had 8 children and 3 previous wives, 2 alive, a man very much in the public eye in a very dangerous area of the world. Her conversion to Islam strikes me as real, though her previous religion commitment, Christian Science, does not seem to have been highly developed. I don't envy her any of the personal sacrifice she made to keep her marriage intact. Out of curiosity I googled her eldest son to verify the impression I had, correct, that her step-son Abdullah, now King of Jordan, has broken is promise to his father to name Noor's first son Hamzah as his successor in favor of his own son. I'd like to know her true reaction to his decision to make that very public (unfaithful?) change. (This decision made since the book was published.) Also, I wonder how much of this public version of her marriage is accurate. I had the feeling she really tones down her feelings of unhappiness and frustration, which merited about two sentences. Hussein cannot have been an easy man to live with, and he was lucky to have Noor's loyalty. I'm glad I read the book, but it left me wanting to read the unedited version.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jane

    I was looking forward to reading this book because I LOVE the country of Jordan. I was so disappointed in the book! Her Majesty seemed embarassed by the fact that a "child of the 1960" became a "Queen,"-- which philosophically she would be opposed to since"Queens" are old-fashioned --and by their very nature not "democrats" (small d). She also spent more time than she should have being critical of the USA (or it's policies.) She should have spent more time building up her adopted home-land. She I was looking forward to reading this book because I LOVE the country of Jordan. I was so disappointed in the book! Her Majesty seemed embarassed by the fact that a "child of the 1960" became a "Queen,"-- which philosophically she would be opposed to since"Queens" are old-fashioned --and by their very nature not "democrats" (small d). She also spent more time than she should have being critical of the USA (or it's policies.) She should have spent more time building up her adopted home-land. She could have used her fame to encourage people to visit the country which desperately needs the tourism. She could have talked about what a beatiful country Jordan is and how wonderful and genuine the people are. The book does not make you fall in love with the country which it could have and should have. Instead she seemed to gripe too much. I felt like I wss reading a policy document for a think tank rather than a book that could have BUILT UP and AFFIRMED her nation. The book was also promoted as a "love-story." While I have no doubt of the love of Their Majesties as a couple, she was very private about their actual relationship. I am glad that it was not a "tell all," in that regard. It just should not have been promoted as a "love-story" since most readers would expect "romantic" details. I know the publishers could not have sold it had it been billed as a position paper.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Revel

    I remember when King Hussein passed away and being mesmerized by his American wife. This is her story and it's an amazing one. The book is really a tribute to her husband, a love song in a sense. I loved learning not only about her journey as Queen Noor and marriage to the King of Jordan, but the historical events that they were so involved in. It's always an eye opening experience to hear another perspective (such as the Gulf War) than what we hear on the news here in the States. I also thought I remember when King Hussein passed away and being mesmerized by his American wife. This is her story and it's an amazing one. The book is really a tribute to her husband, a love song in a sense. I loved learning not only about her journey as Queen Noor and marriage to the King of Jordan, but the historical events that they were so involved in. It's always an eye opening experience to hear another perspective (such as the Gulf War) than what we hear on the news here in the States. I also thought the book was extremely well written.

  5. 4 out of 5

    April

    I had not realized to what extent these memoirs would actually provide a historical, and yes, to some degree, subjective prospective of the crisis in the Middle East. As someone already with an interest in Arab culture, I enjoyed it. (I live in an area possessing the largest Arab population outside of the Middle East, and went to school with many young people of this background.) I was amused by some of the negative reviews. Noor did not refuse to acknowledge Israel's right to exist, and in fact, I had not realized to what extent these memoirs would actually provide a historical, and yes, to some degree, subjective prospective of the crisis in the Middle East. As someone already with an interest in Arab culture, I enjoyed it. (I live in an area possessing the largest Arab population outside of the Middle East, and went to school with many young people of this background.) I was amused by some of the negative reviews. Noor did not refuse to acknowledge Israel's right to exist, and in fact, correctly attributed the seeds of the whole Jewish-Arab conflict to the European meddling in the early 20th century. She is correct that prior to the British mandate, Arabs, Jews and Christians all co-existed in the region. She also pointed out the documented instances of Israel's over-retaliation, and their perenial disregard of UN Resolutions that could've done much to temper the volatility in the region. (There is no need for her to detail Palestinian aggressive responses, as they have been media fodder all along. However, she does relate these instances as well.) Overall, it is a fascinating account of a woman transplanted into nearly surreal circumstances against the backdrop of global events - and her struggle to achieve a balance professionally and personally. This book is not meant to be merely a love story. It is meant to enlighten the side of a conflict that has been given an all too biased facade over the past 60 years. Complaints over the lack of personal expression also bemuse me. Were readers actually expecting a detailed accounting of their intimate moments from a woman whose faith circumscribes modesty and piousness? I think her emotional reactions over different events from the marital to the political are quite warmly and well-expressed. Her observations over the stereotypical ways Arabs are portrayed in movies and TV are definitely on, and something I had already noticed myself. I especially appreciated the point about obsession in other parts of the world with the truly absurd. While in that part of the world, civilians were dying or being displaced on a daily basis, the newstory du jour in the US was the "assault" on Nancy Kerrigan. We do have a distorted view of the value of pop culture. Her speeches, some of which are published on her official website, show her eloquence and ongoing mission to bring about, not just sympathy for the Palestinians per se, but the necessity of widened understanding among all opposing groups. If you were looking for something more like an Andrew Morton book ala Diana, this ain't it.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Suzanne

    “I distinctly recall my first impressions of Jordan. I had been en route to the United States from Iran, where I was working for a British urban planning firm. From the window of my aircraft, I had found myself spellbound by the serene of desert landscape washed golden by the retreating sun at dusk. I was overwhelmed by an extraordinary sensation of belonging, an almost mystical sense of peace.” I decided to read Queen Noor’s autobiography for my 52 Books Around the World Challenge, in the hopes “I distinctly recall my first impressions of Jordan. I had been en route to the United States from Iran, where I was working for a British urban planning firm. From the window of my aircraft, I had found myself spellbound by the serene of desert landscape washed golden by the retreating sun at dusk. I was overwhelmed by an extraordinary sensation of belonging, an almost mystical sense of peace.” I decided to read Queen Noor’s autobiography for my 52 Books Around the World Challenge, in the hopes of learning more about the country of Jordan. After all, an American girl who finds herself the love interest of a Middle Eastern King is bound to have an interesting perspective on this exotic and fascinating kingdom. While I certainly did not expect a “tell-all”, I did expect more than I got. There was very little describing and contrasting Jordan with Lisa Halaby’s (Queen Noor’s name pre-marriage) earlier life. I expected this book to be similar to contemporary “First Lady” autobiographies, which tell of their struggles to fit the role assigned to them, their passions and their work as the first lady of the land, and of course, their love and admiration of their husbands. She definitely got the love and admiration part down. In fact, she absolutely sanctifies the man. I’m not sure if that was purposeful on her part, or if she was encouraged to do so. I found it amusing that the few comments about Hussein that might be construed as faults (like his tendency to risk own life and the lives of his passengers by doing crazy stunts while piloting airplanes), she related as amusing anecdotes. Perhaps that was the only way she could reveal his character flaws, or perhaps she really did enjoy his “wild side.” Queen Noor presents quite a bit of the history of Jordan and the Arab perspective of the conflicts in the Middle East. Unfortunately, it’s extremely slanted. In fact, it’s so biased there were times I felt I was being subjected to a propaganda piece. For instance, she lists several examples of Israel’s unfairness in dealing with the Palestinians, including setting curfews that make it difficult for Palestinians to get to and from work. I seem to recall near daily attacks from suicide bombers in Israel at that time, and the curfews were a way to address these violent attacks. After all, Israel could have denied Palestinians admittance entirely. Also, she condemned Israel for attacking Jordanian territory on the West Bank in retaliation for Palestinian attacks coming from the settlements there. And yet, Jordan refused to refused to police the area or arrest the offenders in order to stop the attacks. Ultimately, she describes her husband King Hussein as a saint who could have achieved peace in the Middle East if it weren’t for the Israelis, the PLO, The United States, and all those self-interested leaders who agree to one thing and then go head and do the other. On a positive note, it did make me want to learn more about the Middle East. Perhaps my next book will be more enlightening.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Xanthe

    I picked this book up mostly because my sister is currently living in Amman, Jordan while she spends a semester abroad as part of her college studies. Before she had announced her intentions of leaving for the Middle East, my knowledge of Jordan was limited to what I had heard on the news and picked up while trying to make sense of what was going on in the world. Jordan hardly figured largely in the headlines dominated by Iraq, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Iran – any other country besides Jordan, it se I picked this book up mostly because my sister is currently living in Amman, Jordan while she spends a semester abroad as part of her college studies. Before she had announced her intentions of leaving for the Middle East, my knowledge of Jordan was limited to what I had heard on the news and picked up while trying to make sense of what was going on in the world. Jordan hardly figured largely in the headlines dominated by Iraq, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Iran – any other country besides Jordan, it seemed. Was the relatively small space allotted to Jordan in the newspapers a sign that the country is a quiet, safe place? Negative evidence wasn’t enough to calm my anxieties about sending my younger sister halfway around the world to live with strangers in a region that I knew to be hostile to outsiders, no matter how much genuine goodwill and eagerness to learn they might arrive with. As an American who chose to live in Jordan and later convert to Islam, Queen Noor is able to share a unique perspective on her adopted country and on the relationships between the countries in the region and the United States. Born Lisa Halaby into a well-connected family of both European and Arab descent, Queen Noor recounts her childhood and career that led her to a fateful visit to the Hashemite Kingdom of Trans-Jordan and the path that her life took from her extraordinary relationship with its King. Her perspective was some ways an ideal window on the events of the past three decades in the Middle East for Americans like me. Queen Noor’s accounts of the history of the region are full of insider details and perspectives that would be hard to come by from a more scholarly participant, while at the same time her American outlook means that she can use terms and references that I understand and can use to make sense of the culture she was describing. I was grateful for this combination of insight and familiarity as an introduction to the very complex country of Jordan. I don’t yet know enough to judge how biased Queen Noor’s accounts of her husband’s actions and her adopted country’s role are. It is only natural that she would like to present her beloved husband as a voice of reason and above reproach. In her favor, I was impressed by her frankness in her assessment of her own fashion sense (deplorable), King Hussein’s rigid control of the Jordanian press, and her assessment of his near-crippling empathy that manifested itself at times as insensitivity to the suffering of those closest to him. This is only another reason to recommend Leap of Faith as a book that inspires further reading while giving a broad and accessible introduction. After reading it, I was pleased that I was able to ask intelligent questions during my bi-weekly phone calls to my sister and have some hope of one day understanding her answers. Review written 8/2005

  8. 5 out of 5

    Kela

    Before reading this book I did not know much about Queen Noor other than she was an American who became royalty. After reading this book, I can say I still do not know much about Queen Noor although I learned a great deal about her husband King Hussein, the Middle East, and her anti-American views. Early on I got the feeling she wrote this book to preserve her husband's legacy. I've never seen the words "my husband" used so many times in one book. At one point she managed to use the phrase three Before reading this book I did not know much about Queen Noor other than she was an American who became royalty. After reading this book, I can say I still do not know much about Queen Noor although I learned a great deal about her husband King Hussein, the Middle East, and her anti-American views. Early on I got the feeling she wrote this book to preserve her husband's legacy. I've never seen the words "my husband" used so many times in one book. At one point she managed to use the phrase three times in ONE sentence! I'm sure the decision to become a queen and leave her family and homeland behind was a monumental one, as was becoming a Muslim, however both topics are summed up in only a couple of sentences. Queen Noor spends a lot of time retelling the history of the entire Middle East region, which is fine if you're reading a history book, not so interesting when you're reading a royal autobiography. She rails against the Western media's bias towards Israel, but does nothing to provide a fair and balanced view. She just goes in the complete opposite direction. In Queen Noor's world, everything bad that has ever happened in the Middle East was caused by the United States or Israel. About halfway through, I decided this book was nothing more than a propaganda piece. I really wanted to quit reading at this point, but I kept going for one reason only. I wanted to see if she ever discussed the Iran hostage crisis or 9/11. Queen Noor spends a lot of time complaining about Hollywood's stereotype of Arabs in the 80's and discusses the Iran and Iraq war that began shortly after the hostage crisis in great detail, but never once mentions the 52 Americans who were kidnapped and held hostage by Iran for 444 days. Sept. 11 gets only a very brief mention and, in case you're wondering, it was all America's fault for getting involved in the Gulf War in the 90's. Sadly, it wasn't until the final chapters when King Hussein is dying of cancer that the book actually becomes interesting and we get a more personal look at the royal family.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Chris

    I was reading this book while traveling to Jordan. Visiting most of the touristic highlights and also some places far off the beaten tourist track, even visited a school for Syrian refuges. This book helped me a lot in a better understanding of the country and its whereabouts. The explanation of the political problems, which Queen Noor does very carefully and with a lot of empathy for both sides of the coin, helped me in a better understanding of the Arab an Palestinian point of view. I won't as I was reading this book while traveling to Jordan. Visiting most of the touristic highlights and also some places far off the beaten tourist track, even visited a school for Syrian refuges. This book helped me a lot in a better understanding of the country and its whereabouts. The explanation of the political problems, which Queen Noor does very carefully and with a lot of empathy for both sides of the coin, helped me in a better understanding of the Arab an Palestinian point of view. I won't assert that her perspective on political and social events in the region is the "right" one (indeed, there can be no single "right" perspective in such complicated matters), but she recounts her unique personal experience with objectivity and compassion. Reading this book forced me to reconsider my opinion on such matters as the forming of the state of Israel in 1948, the Six day war in 1967 and of the Camp David accords in 1977. Considering the Jordanian position made me sadly aware of how superficially I understand the complexities of the whole Middle East situation. Queen Noor presents strong arguments for a balanced approach in the Middle East and shows how often we (I) favor Israel (and America's) point of view, unfairly over the Arab approach. Next to the political views there is a lot of attention for her personal life. I had the feeling she really tones down her feelings of unhappiness and frustration there. Hussein cannot have been an easy man to live with, and he was very lucky to have Noor's loyalty. Seeing the world through another eyes. That’s what reading the book was for me. I was fascinated to read Queen Noor Al Hussein's (whose name was given to her by her husband when they married - it means "light of Hussein" but she is born and raised in the United States as Lisa Halaby) account of her 20 year marriage, which spanned two decades of turmoil in the Middle East. And I was touched by the way she describes the last months with Hussein and their struggle with his cancer. I had taken a leap of faith, and faith has richly reward me. Queen Noor ‘Leap of Faith’

  10. 5 out of 5

    Julie

    I've always been curious about Queen Noor, the former Lisa Halaby, the American woman who became Queen of Jordan. I wondered how she gave up the freedoms she had as a woman in the US, in order to be a Muslim royal. Alas, this memoir gives only the most superficial of answers to that -- and other -- questions about her life. Granted, she does explain that her father was of Middle Eastern descent and that piqued her interest in her Middle Eastern roots; however, in this memoir she fails to beyond I've always been curious about Queen Noor, the former Lisa Halaby, the American woman who became Queen of Jordan. I wondered how she gave up the freedoms she had as a woman in the US, in order to be a Muslim royal. Alas, this memoir gives only the most superficial of answers to that -- and other -- questions about her life. Granted, she does explain that her father was of Middle Eastern descent and that piqued her interest in her Middle Eastern roots; however, in this memoir she fails to beyond that bit of information. Indeed, I found this memoir to be more like the journal entries of a superficial person, e.g. "Today I went here, yesterday I went there." What emerges is woman of little depth, who has dedicated her life to being her husband's consort and number one fan. It is interesting to hear her version of the Arab-Israeli conflicts, especially their conflicts about the West Bank and Gaza. She is, of course, clearly on the side of the Arabic nations, and presents an entirely one-sided point of view, but it is a view that is rarely seen in American media. Again, however, there is little new or insider information, other than cute little vignettes about breaches of protocol, or her husband's "hooligan" antics. Now, it must be said that I've been listening to this recorded book, rather than reading it. It is possible that the reader's voice -- very smooth and glamorous -- accentuates the "beautiful-woman-telling-her-life-to-admirers" feel of the book, but I think that's only a small part of my experience of this as a superficial, self-satisfied accounting of a life of privilege. Also, I must admit that I've read only 3/4 of the book; I just don't want to read the rest. Perhaps she redeems herself and the last quarter is more thoughtful and complex. Let me know if that happens.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Sandy

    While Leap of Faith is primarily the author Queen Noor’s memoir and a tribute to her late husband King Hussein of Jordan, what I like most about this book is the author's explanations about the history of conflicts in the "Middle East" region. I usually consider the Israel - Palestine conflict "too daunting" to think about. Leap of Faith wraps history and political science lessons about a complex and tragic regional situation within a story of royal life and intrigue, keeping me turning the page While Leap of Faith is primarily the author Queen Noor’s memoir and a tribute to her late husband King Hussein of Jordan, what I like most about this book is the author's explanations about the history of conflicts in the "Middle East" region. I usually consider the Israel - Palestine conflict "too daunting" to think about. Leap of Faith wraps history and political science lessons about a complex and tragic regional situation within a story of royal life and intrigue, keeping me turning the pages and gaining understanding with little effort. Also, noting that it is impossible to escape one's own bias in one's writing, I feel that Queen Noor was as objective as she could be, and that she intended to be factual, in spite of her position of influence. Ms. Al-Hussein's love and respect for her husband leap off the pages and are contagious. Reading about King Hussein's tireless efforts toward peace in the region, his anguish and his hope, I feel truly moved. As an autobiography of young American woman who unwittingly becomes a Queen of a country very unlike her own, and in the midst of warring nations, Leap of Faith succeeds.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Charlotte

    Queen Noor's memoirs offer a unique insight into the royal family of Jordan. An American with Lebanese roots marries the King of Jordan and becomes a head of state. She deals with fame, security threats, wars, politics and speeches all the while raising a family and supporting her husband. I was frustrated at times with the distance between reader and author. I felt Queen Noor's desire for privacy and understood why this memoir was not more personal. But I also had the suspicion that I was readin Queen Noor's memoirs offer a unique insight into the royal family of Jordan. An American with Lebanese roots marries the King of Jordan and becomes a head of state. She deals with fame, security threats, wars, politics and speeches all the while raising a family and supporting her husband. I was frustrated at times with the distance between reader and author. I felt Queen Noor's desire for privacy and understood why this memoir was not more personal. But I also had the suspicion that I was reading a PR tool rather than a personal tale, with it's long lists of NGO's, heads of state, charity programs, etc. I'm glad I read it. The Middle East is such a complicated region that any additional perspective I can gain is useful. And I truly was touched by her respect and love for her husband.

  13. 4 out of 5

    John-Manuel Andriote

    Queen Noor is one of the most intriguing figures in modern history. An American beauty--like Grace Kelly, the actress who became Princess Grace of Monaco (one of the most glamorous figures of the 20th century)--she was an intelligent young American woman who was charmed by a royal man from an exotic place. She was a journalist before marrying King Hussein of Jordan, which shows in her memoir. She is intelligent, insightful, and a good writer, too. I attended her talk at the National Press Club, Queen Noor is one of the most intriguing figures in modern history. An American beauty--like Grace Kelly, the actress who became Princess Grace of Monaco (one of the most glamorous figures of the 20th century)--she was an intelligent young American woman who was charmed by a royal man from an exotic place. She was a journalist before marrying King Hussein of Jordan, which shows in her memoir. She is intelligent, insightful, and a good writer, too. I attended her talk at the National Press Club, in Washington, D.C., and it was all there: The beauty, the keen intelligence, the woman who has been at the center of Middle Eastern politics--and, as an American-born woman in a Muslim culture, can explain it in a way I haven't read anyone else of her stature can do.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Wsm

    The former Lisa Hallaby became Queen Noor of Jordan.This is a highly readable account of her years with King Hussein and politics and war in the Middle East.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Liz

    I thought that this book would be wholly different than what it turned out to be. The fact that it still earned four stars from me means that it not only changed my expectations, but also met them as well. I expected to hear about Queen Noor's life. I expected to hear about what she did specifically as the "first lady" of Jordan. I expected to hear personal experiences and reactions to her experiences "in office." I got some of that, but what I got was her take on experiences specifically about t I thought that this book would be wholly different than what it turned out to be. The fact that it still earned four stars from me means that it not only changed my expectations, but also met them as well. I expected to hear about Queen Noor's life. I expected to hear about what she did specifically as the "first lady" of Jordan. I expected to hear personal experiences and reactions to her experiences "in office." I got some of that, but what I got was her take on experiences specifically about the Middle East and the history of the struggle for peace. I didn't get to know the woman so much as I got to learn about the time and the circumstances surrounding King Hussein's elusive search for peace. While I can now say that I finally have an understanding of some of the people, places and events that happened regarding Isreal and the Arab world, I cannot say that I learned about Queen Noor herself. I would have liked to. She rarely allows the reader into her world and her thoughts and her struggles, but we hear of the struggles of her family and her husband. For example, I would have loved to have read her personal thoughts on her conversion to Islam. Or more of her personal thoughts on becoming the fourth wife of a King. All in all, because I didn't have a background whatsoever about the Isreali conflict, this book was a helpful starting point. It's a pretty easy read, regardless of the numerous facts stuffed throughout it. Would have been helpful to have a map of the Middle East included, though. If you're looking about a story about a woman, don't read this. If you're looking for a book to learn some basic facts about the Middle East peace conflict, read this. It will be worth your time and will personalize the conflict for you.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Ellen Librarian

    It's hard to think of anyone who has led a more interesting life than Queen Noor of Jordan. Born into a well-connected Arab-American family in the US, she met and married King Hussein of Jordan as a young woman, converted to Islam and committed herself to helping her husband promote peace and moderatism in the Middle East. Although the book serves as more of a love letter to the now-deceased Hussein than as an exploration of her own life as an American who has not only adopted a foreign country It's hard to think of anyone who has led a more interesting life than Queen Noor of Jordan. Born into a well-connected Arab-American family in the US, she met and married King Hussein of Jordan as a young woman, converted to Islam and committed herself to helping her husband promote peace and moderatism in the Middle East. Although the book serves as more of a love letter to the now-deceased Hussein than as an exploration of her own life as an American who has not only adopted a foreign country but becomes a member of its royalty, there are still lots of fascinating tidbits about life as a modern queen in an Islamic country determined to serve as a stabilizing influence in the Middle East. The author is eager to serve as a bridge between Middle East and west and so shares many anecdotes about Middle East politics from a moderate Islamic perspective: How the first Gulf War was a disaster for Jordanians, the author's pointed comments about some of the US presidential figures she met, the tensions that arose between Jordan and other Arab countries due to its support of peace, her observations about the ways in which Israel has hindered the peace process and her own deep dedication to peace. Despite her obvious bias, we can't help but feel at least some of the respect and admiration for King Hussein the author has been trying to impart.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Ashley

    This was a good book. It was very biased, but I can understand that. Queen Noor completely adopted the country of Jordan, and that is why she took the point of view of the Palestinians. I loved the way she adopted Jordan, and I loved the way she defended the country and the king--her husband--throughout the entire book. She got on her soap box a lot through the book, but it wasn't too bad. The one problem I had with this book is that Queen Noor never really talked about herself. She talked exten This was a good book. It was very biased, but I can understand that. Queen Noor completely adopted the country of Jordan, and that is why she took the point of view of the Palestinians. I loved the way she adopted Jordan, and I loved the way she defended the country and the king--her husband--throughout the entire book. She got on her soap box a lot through the book, but it wasn't too bad. The one problem I had with this book is that Queen Noor never really talked about herself. She talked extensively about her husband, her husband's life, her husband's policies, and her country, but there was not a lot about Queen Noor, and that was very disappointing. Other than that, it was a great book. Leap of Faith is about a young Arab-American woman who falls in love, and marries, the king of Jordan. She talks about her life in Jordan since 1978 until the present day, and she explains how she and the king helped Jordan through some rough periods of history.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Joy H.

    I am listening to the audio version of this book, _Leap of Faith_. It's being narrated by Suzanne Toren whose delivery I cannot stand. Queen Noor should have recorded the book herself. Queen Noor speaks in the introduction and has a beautiful voice and delivery. She sounds gentle and serene. To me, Toren sounds haughty, pompous, and pretentious. Queen Noor, on the other hand sounds very appealing and likable. I didn't finish listening to this audio because I lost interest. It dealt with a lot of I am listening to the audio version of this book, _Leap of Faith_. It's being narrated by Suzanne Toren whose delivery I cannot stand. Queen Noor should have recorded the book herself. Queen Noor speaks in the introduction and has a beautiful voice and delivery. She sounds gentle and serene. To me, Toren sounds haughty, pompous, and pretentious. Queen Noor, on the other hand sounds very appealing and likable. I didn't finish listening to this audio because I lost interest. It dealt with a lot of political history. I was looking for more of the personal side of Queen Noor's life.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Petra

    One of my all time favorite books. I couldn't stop reading it and have read it two more times since the very first time I read it. FANTASTIC.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Noelle (Pandora) Kukenas

    A wonderful read by and about an amazing woman and her extraordinary life.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Diann

    A friend recommended this to me and I began to read it with a bit of reluctance, figuring it was another "American girl meets a King and becomes a Queen." It was not like that at all! A beautiful love story, written with honesty and much integrity. In addition to a memoir of their relationship, she explained much of what was happening politically in the region. It was very well written and offered me a new perspective on the country of Jordan. A great read!

  22. 4 out of 5

    Cheryl

    I wanted to read this true story because Queen Noor seemed fascinating: The youngest queen at the time of her marriage, and an American woman and architecture graduate of Princeton, married to the monarch King of Jordan. The book is written in autobiography form, with immense information about the Middle East and the political disputes and agreements between the countries of that region, as well as with the United States. In fact, Queen Noor refers to her journal a lot and as a result, it seems I wanted to read this true story because Queen Noor seemed fascinating: The youngest queen at the time of her marriage, and an American woman and architecture graduate of Princeton, married to the monarch King of Jordan. The book is written in autobiography form, with immense information about the Middle East and the political disputes and agreements between the countries of that region, as well as with the United States. In fact, Queen Noor refers to her journal a lot and as a result, it seems as if she mentions every visit from a head of state to her home, every trip she made abroad, her speeches, and even some conversations with political figure heads and dictators. The downside is that there is a lot of jumping around. And since she was a Queen who in some ways was expected to take a back seat to her husband, the book details a lot about him. The upside to the book includes the parts where she talks about her family, her children, her impromptu moments with the King, and the moments they shared when he was ill. What really stands out about the book though, are the great details and background information that could make up a history lesson or book.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Cathryn

    I recommend this thoughtful and insightful book to everyone regardless of their views on Middle East issues. First off, it showed me how little I actually know about the Middle East. I do believe, however, that should my opinions differ from Queen Noor's in future, I will retain my admiration for her ability to use the big picture to develop her own viewpoints, as well as her unrelenting work to support her husband in his striving for peace and with the foundation she started. She has done treme I recommend this thoughtful and insightful book to everyone regardless of their views on Middle East issues. First off, it showed me how little I actually know about the Middle East. I do believe, however, that should my opinions differ from Queen Noor's in future, I will retain my admiration for her ability to use the big picture to develop her own viewpoints, as well as her unrelenting work to support her husband in his striving for peace and with the foundation she started. She has done tremendous good in stimulating Jordanian industry and culture, improving conditions in poor villages via a "trade, not aid" mindset, and not the least in raising their family. An unmissable book, IMO.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Loraine

    I have to admit that I finally gave up on this book after 250 pages of a 400 page large print book. Queen Noor's life story is quite interesting and I did enjoy hearing her perspective of the Middle East problems. BUT this book is about 1/3 her story and 2/3 her husband's story with lots of political history thrown in. I just got too bogged down in the political history and couldn't plow through any more.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Raneem

    when i started reading the book i was looking for another fairytale like all other royal marriages.. but this book gave me a wider knowledge on jordan and King Hussein and his role in arab world politics...whether this information is true or not am not sure but at least it is a different perspective to what i thought i know about our region politics

  26. 4 out of 5

    Maura

    I remember when the news was full of her engagement - it was treated like a fairy tale. Reading this book shows you the reality behind the fantasy of becoming a queen or princess, but also reveals the thoughtful, intelligent person that Queen Noor is. Her explanations of various allegiances makes the snarl of Mid-East politics much clearer.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Julz

    Someone borrowed this one after I finished it and never returned it, but I didn't mind. It was interesting, and I'm glad I read it once, but it's not re-read material. She seems like a nice enough person, but it still puzzles me how she can be the darling of liberal Washington when she lived a lavish life in such an impoverished country--one which represses women, at that!

  28. 5 out of 5

    Denise

    The Arab perspective on the mideast conflicts from the time Lisa Najeeb Halaby married King Hussein of Jordan becoming Queen Noor. She was American born, and was introduced to the King by her father when she was 26 years old. I've since done some reading about the history and geography of the area to more fully understand the story she tells. I would recommend this book!

  29. 4 out of 5

    Jenny

    This book definitely picked up toward the end, but I found myself frustrated by the apparent glossing over of many potentially difficult stages. Was it really so easy to give up your name? Your birth country? To take on a new religion? Was it really ok when your husband one-uped your emotional crises? I kind of wanted to read the unauthorized biography...

  30. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    Loved this book!!! It is one of the few non-fiction books that kept me up at night reading. Queen Noor is one of my new heroines! I was so interested in reading about her perspective of the Middle East.

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