Inside the Kingdom: Kings, Clerics, Modernists, Terrorists, and the Struggle for Saudi Arabia (Library Edition)

Overview

Saudi Arabia is a country defined by paradox. It is a modern state driven by contemporary technology and possessed of vast oil deposits, yet its powerful religious establishment would have its customs and practices rolled back a thousand years to match those of the prophet Muhammad.

With Inside the Kingdom, journalist and bestselling author Robert Lacey has given us one of the most penetrating and insightful looks at Saudi Arabia ever produced. While living for years among the ...

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

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Overview

Saudi Arabia is a country defined by paradox. It is a modern state driven by contemporary technology and possessed of vast oil deposits, yet its powerful religious establishment would have its customs and practices rolled back a thousand years to match those of the prophet Muhammad.

With Inside the Kingdom, journalist and bestselling author Robert Lacey has given us one of the most penetrating and insightful looks at Saudi Arabia ever produced. While living for years among the nation's princes and paupers, its clerics and progressives, Lacey endeavored to find out how the consequences of the 1970s oil boom produced a society at war with itself.

Filled with stories that trace a path through the Persian Gulf War and the events of 9/11 to the oil-market convulsions of today, Inside the Kingdom gives us a modern history of the Saudis in their own words, revealing a people attempting to reconcile life under religious law with the demands of a rapidly changing world. Their struggle will have powerful reverberations around the globe, and this rich work provides a penetrating look at a country no one can afford to ignore.

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Editorial Reviews

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

  • ISBN-13: 9781400143375
  • Publisher: Tantor Media, Inc.
  • Publication date: 10/28/2009
  • Format: CD
  • Edition description: Library - Unabridged CD
  • Product dimensions: 6.70 (w) x 6.50 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author


Robert Lacey is a British historian and the author of twenty books, including Majesty, The Year 1000, and the New York Times bestseller The Kingdom.

Stephen Hoye has won more than a dozen AudioFile Earphones Awards and two prestigious APA Audie Awards, including one for Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert T. Kiyosaki. He has recorded many other notable titles, such as Every Second Counts by Lance Armstrong and The Google Story by David A. Vise and Mark Malseed.

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Sort by: Showing 1 – 9 of 8 Customer Reviews
  • Posted February 16, 2012

    Very detailed view of Saudi Arabia

    This was a well written book about the history, the culture and the royalty of Saudia Arabia. The book reads like it was written by a Saudi citizen. The author captures all kinds of details and historical nuances. Kept my attention and interest very well. The only thing that bothered me a little was the lack of critique against radical Islam. He talks about it but never makes a value judgement. A summation at the end of how western civilization compares favorably to the islamic culture would have helped. I felt like he was either co-opted by the culture a bit or was trying to hard not to be negative (although there is ample material for it).

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 22, 2010

    Fantastic book!

    Provided insight on historical and political aspects of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and its royal family. Clear, concise and informative. A great read.

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