Stolen Lives, by Malika Oufkir

 4 stars

Stolen Lives: Twenty Years in a Desert Jail - (from Amazon)
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.

My review -  I thought the book was very interesting. I had never read a book that took place in Morocco. I knew nothing of their government or way of life. So this book was an eye opener. The first 1/3 of the book took me a week to read. It was slow and tedious reading. The final 2/3 was a total different book and only took me 2 days to finish! It was very sad, exciting, and had you hanging on edge. However... I feel it could have been written better. It is a memoir and I do know that she is not a writer and is from Morocco. So maybe something got lost there??? I am giving her excuses.  Parts of it were very descriptive, but other parts were not at all. Even after I have finished the book, I still do not really know how they dug a tunnel, and covered it up to keep it a secret from the guards. I also had a hard time visualizing the actual rooms they were in, and they used some kind of "system" rigged up to communicate to each other and I didn't get that at all!

All that being said - I still very highly recommend this book! They lived through a very terrible ordeal and lived to tell about it and I feel that she was very brave in telling her story, it should be heard!

This book is going on my "book-for-book" trade list (upper left on the side bar).

and ... We have a winner -
the winner of the great "Booklovers 2011 calendar" is...
# 56 - Babyfro!!!!! Congratulations!
Babyfro will have 48 hours to contact me back after I email her or another winner will be chosen.
Wow! This was a very successful contest! I wanted 50 followers on my new bookblog and I got - 58!
Thanks to everybody for participating! Please return to read more reviews and for future giveaways! 


  1. I read this years ago and don't remember much but I do remember that they lived through an awful ordeal. I can still remember feeling horrified at what they went through.

  2. Congrats to the winner.

    I don't think I've read anything that takes place in Morroco either.

  3. I have never read this book so I definitely appreciate the review. I have a hard time if a book is taking me a long time to get through. Occasionally I will put it down for months. Way to go on completing it and getting a good read at the end. And congrats to your winner too!


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