As a foreign correspondent for National Public Radio, Jacki Lyden has spent her adult life on the frontlines in some of the most dangerous war zones in the world. Her childhood was a war zone of a different kind. Her mother suffered from what we now call manic-depression; when Jacki was a child in a small Midwestern town, her mother was simply called crazy. Jacki would return home from grade school to find her mother wrapped in a toga of bedsheets, with eyeliner hieroglyphics drawn on her arms and a tiara on her head. In her manic phases, she became a woman with power, Marie Antoinette or the Queen of Sheba; in real life, she was trapped in a destructive marriage to the villainous local doctor. With their mother beyond reach, her children turned to their hardscrabble grandmother, a woman who had her first child at age fourteen and lost her husband inn a barroom brawl.
Jacki eventually set out on her own impassioned journeysif her mother could escape to exotic places, so would she. In her twenties she joined a low-rent rodeo. Later, as a radio journalist, she interviewed Yasir Arafat and maneuvered her way through Baghdad at the height of the Persian Gulf War, her reports from faraway lands strangely echoing her mother's travels of the mind.
Heartbreaking, hilarious, lyrical, this memoir is a mother-daughter story of the most deeply moving kind, a testimony to obstinate devotion in the face of bewildering illness. Jacki Lyden recalls her calamitous childhood with a child's aching regret and anadult's keen wisdom. Daughter of the Queen of Sheba is an irresistibly compelling tale of two women with a scrappy genius for survival.