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Running for All the Right Reasons: A Saudi-Born Woman's Pursuit of Democracy (Arab American Writing)


Running for All the Right Reasons: A Saudi-Born Woman's Pursuit of Democracy (Arab American Writing) Cover

ISBN13: 9780815609117
ISBN10: 0815609116
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Only 3 left in stock at $9.07!


Synopses & Reviews

Book News Annotation:

Masry was born in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, and educated in Egypt. She received a master's degree from California Lutheran U., and has taught government and history at a Los Angeles high school since 1999. In 2004, she became the first Saudi American to run for political office in the U.S., when she sought a seat in the California State Assembly; she has run two additional campaigns for the seat, first in 2005-2006 and most recently in 2008. In this text, she and Chenard (English, Gateway Community College, New Haven, Connecticut) chronicle Masry's fascinating life, from her childhood in Mecca in the late 1940s-1950s through her second bid for the California State Assembly, and the people, events, and places that have brought Masry to champion the cause of democracy for all people. No subject index. Annotation ©2009 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (

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minwilli, December 28, 2008 (view all comments by minwilli)
“Running for All the Right Reasons” by Ferial Masry and Susan Chenard
Published 2008 by Syracuse University Press. 6X 9, 232 pages, 15 black and white illustrations,
glossary, cloth. $24.95. ISBN # 978-0-8156-0911-7.
Reviewed by Todd Hoover, freelance writer
I found reading this book provided a unique view of the Saudia Arabian
culture that Ferial came from. As you read the book, you will quickly
become aware that Ferial’s culture is quite different from traditional
Western culture. Marriages were arranged and in the case of Ferial’s
parents, the age difference was significant. Ferial’s mother was married at the age of
fourteen. Ferial’s father is away much of the time and one is left with the impression that
Ferial’s parents might have been somewhat distant. Although many of the woman described
in Ferial’s childhood were not provided the best of educational opportunities, they
demonstrated a wealth of knowledge about culture and etiquette. For instance it is described
how woman would have elaborate dining and entertainment rituals determining who should
eat and in what order. One part even describes how a particular woman was blacklisted for
taking two bites, which caused all the other women to follow suite and go hungry. It is truly a
different world.
Genders roles were very sharply defined and men and women seemed to have separate
worlds. Women had their gatherings and men had theirs. Ferial emphasized the many
garments that the women would wear with diamonds and other jewels on them. She
mentioned that women were very conscious of what they wore, when they wore outfits and the
“individuality” in the custom-made garments’ appearances and designs. Most of the upper
class women weren’t allowed to go outside unveiled. The women would peer out from
shutters looking out onto the street. In the poor rural areas the women would have more
freedom then the elite city women because in some instances they would be able to go around
“unveiled” and interact with the men they met in the community. You would think that there
was some jealousy between these groups of women but in the book it was only implied.
Ferial tended to identify with these women because they seemed to have more freedom than
the women in her family. When Ferial’s mother recognized that her daughters would not get
but the most basic education in Saudi Arabia, she sought to have them schooled in Cairo,
where she knew they would have a much broader range of opportunities.
Ferial’s aunt Anima, the community social hostess vehemently opposed this idea and thought
it wrong to send the daughters away. Amina questioned the family lineage and the fact that
Ferial’s mother was sending the girls to foreign schools. The foreign schools she believed
were so culturally deprived that the girls would loose their Saudi Arabian respect.
Saudi Arabian women weren’t allowed to get married without the king’s permission. By
marrying Waleed, Ferial was basically closing the door to every really being able to re-enter
Saudi society.
Much of the Saudi Arabian description she gives still applies to this day. But there have
definitely been some changes. As Ferial narrates in her last visit to Saudi Arabia, many
women are now allowed to practice a number of professions and attend women universities
and attain many of the same advanced degrees as men. In spite of this the women are still
largely separated from the men.
At the time that Ferial Masry decided to come to America her first experience was seeing New
York City! She describes New York as being over whelming, though she eventually does
come to fall in love with the United States.
When Ferial’s son Omar joined the US Army reserves he had no idea that he would ever be
called to serve in Iraq. But much to his dismay that day would eventually come. Ferial
describes in some detail how her son broke this news to her and how upset she then became.
She knew Omar didn’t have a choice at this point and that he would just have to do best that
he could and to try not kill any Iraqi’s and try to help in any way that he could. This motivated
Ferial to get politically involved in protesting the War. She began attending democratic clubs,
and upon seeing her passion, many individuals suggested to her to run for state assembly.
During her first campaign, since she was coming in late, the only way she could get on the
ballot was through a write-in campaign. Through a lot of enthusiasm and hard work she was
able to garner enough write-in votes to win the primary. From that point on, she campaigned
with her heart and soul, walking precincts and talking to the voters. In her book, it is
interesting how she describes conversations with voters how she would even win over many
Republicans. There’s even a section narrating her colorful encounter with “the crazy lady”.
Ferial ends her book by describing her experiences in campaigning, her return trip to Saudi
Arabia and her climb international recognition. She gives a synopsis how she would improve
world politics. In spite of many unfortunate actions taken by the Bush Administration, she
expresses with dedication, that with the right following there is still great hope for our
democracy and that it is something that we as Americans should be willing to fight for.
Todd Hoover is a freelance writer and webmaster residing in Santa Clarita Valley. His comments also
appear in The Signal Newspaper.
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(5 of 5 readers found this comment helpful)

Product Details

Masry, Ferial
Syracuse University Press
Foreword by:
Zogby, James J.
Zogby, James J.
Masry, Feriel
Chenard, Susan
Women immigrants
United States Politics and government.
Ventura County (Calif.).
Arab American Writing
Publication Date:
9.38x6.38x.81 in. .97 lbs.

Related Subjects

Biography » Political
History and Social Science » Ethnic Studies » Middle Eastern American
History and Social Science » Geography » General
History and Social Science » World History » Middle East

Running for All the Right Reasons: A Saudi-Born Woman's Pursuit of Democracy (Arab American Writing) Sale Hardcover
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