Inside the Kingdom: Kings, Clerics, Modernists, Terrorists, and the Struggle for Saudi Arabia

Inside the Kingdom: Kings, Clerics, Modernists, Terrorists, and the Struggle for Saudi Arabia

by Robert Lacey, Stephen Hoye
     
 

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Bestselling author Robert Lacey tells us what happened in the Middle East's oil-rich powerhouse-while we weren't looking.

Overview

Bestselling author Robert Lacey tells us what happened in the Middle East's oil-rich powerhouse-while we weren't looking.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Lacey (The Kingdom) delves into the paradoxes in Saudi society—where women are forbidden to drive but are more likely to attend universities than men—and why this nation yielded most of the terrorist team on September 11, Osama bin Laden and one of the largest group of foreign fighters sent to Guantánamo from Afghanistan. Lacey's conversational tone and anecdotal approach to storytelling and analysis gives us a vivid portrait of personal and political life in Saudi Arabia's public and personal spheres, the traditions that govern everyday life, the country's journey from relative liberalism on the tide of extreme oil wealth in the 1980s to a resurgence of traditionalism. Lacey shows us a land where the governing dynasty gives rehabilitated Guantánamo returnees an $18,000 stipend toward their marriage dowry, and 15 young girls died in a schoolhouse fire in 2002 because they were not properly veiled, and religious police forbade them to escape and prevented firefighters from entering the burning building. Lacey's eye for sweeping trends and the telling detail combined with the depth, breadth and evenhandedness of his research makes for an indispensable guide. (Oct.)
Kirkus Reviews
A lucid exploration of profound divisions in Saudi society, many of which are of immediate concern to the West. Dismissing an American editor's characterization of his subjects as a "bunch of camel jockeys," Arabia expert Lacey (Great Tales from English History, Volume 3, 2006, etc.) accords great respect to the House of Saud, which knitted three distinct nations into modern Saudi Arabia. Yet, the author speculates, without Saud's rise, "the horrors of 9/11 would never have been inflicted on the United States, since Osama Bin Laden's poisonous hostility to the west was a brew that only Saudi Arabia could have concocted." Lacey patiently explains the rise of Wahhabist orthodoxy and its puritanical view of the world, in which so slight an infraction as enjoying music would earn a Muslim a spot in the inferno. That orthodoxy, ultimately, underlies the jihadist aspirations of bin Laden and al-Qaeda, who want ensure that such infractions are properly punished on Earth. The Saudi royal family-of whom bin Laden is a distant cousin-does not go uncriticized by the Wahhabist mullahs. Provocatively, Lacey explores the Sunni-Shia split in Saudi society, noting that the despised Shia minority was quick to come to the nation's defense during the Gulf War, even as the Wahhabists decried the presence of American troops on Saudi soil and encouraged resistance. The author also describes the assassination of Shia saint Ali as "one of the earliest victims of Islamic terrorism"-a statement that should cause a stir in Riyadh. What should win him respect there, however, is his evenhanded treatment of Saudi efforts to introduce modernizing reforms and to curb homegrown terrorism in the wake of 9/11, includingthe rehabilitation of jihadists released from Guantanamo. Lacey concludes by noting that Saudi Arabia, once believed to be a steadfast ally of the West, has been forging links with new partners-especially China-that will change geopolitics in the years to come. A culturally sensitive portrayal of a troubled-and potentially troublesome-region.
From the Publisher
"This is high drama and an epic tale. Dazzling—on every level." —Tom Brokaw

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781400113378
Publisher:
Tantor Media, Inc.
Publication date:
10/28/2009
Edition description:
Unabridged, 12 CDs, 14 hrs 30 min
Product dimensions:
6.50(w) x 5.50(h) x 1.10(d)

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From the Publisher
"This is high drama and an epic tale. Dazzling—-on every level." —-Tom Brokaw

Meet the Author

Robert Lacey is a British journalist and the author of the bestselling books The Kingdom, Majesty, and Ford: The Men and the Machine. For the past three years he has split his time between Saudi Arabia and London to research this book.

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