Inside the Kingdom: Kings, Clerics, Modernists, Terrorists, and the Struggle for Saudi Arabia Hardcover – Oct 2009
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"This is high drama and an epic tale. Dazzling---on every level." ---Tom Brokaw --This text refers to the MP3 CD edition.
"Robert Lacey has returned to the Kingdom to provide an insightful and intimate portrait of a country—and a family—chained to tradition and challenged by the remorseless march of modernity. Lacey provides many startling and often delicious details that make this history fresh, surprising, and essential." --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.See all Product description
Top Customer Reviews
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com
The truth is, there are much better books on the topics Lacey covers, so he markets this book as being about Saudi Arabia, rather than what it really is about: just another book on Islamic fundamentalist terrorism - with OBL at the center. To validate this “twist” he includes some history on Saudi Arabia and the royal family, as well as a brief highlight on the seizure of the Grand Mosque. But other than that, skip this book and read Ghost Wars and The Looming Tower. Lacey writes like a journalist here, focusing on a few human sources, generally taking their word for it, and not doing enough work to fill the gaps with substance between the anecdotes. No discussion on the economics, foreign relations, or what it’s like for the average Saudi.
Whilst Lacey has included some small amount of social commentary, ie a brief discussion of same sex lesbian relationships, rape, the social repression of Saudi society the book is very much in the Great Man school of history so dont buy this book if your looking for a man on the street view of Saudi society. Otherwise it is excellent.
I dont know if Lacey will live long enough to produce a trilogy but it is also worth mentioning that this book will be interesting to pick up in 20 years to see if some of the factors Lacey identifies have come to fruition. For example he talks about King Abdullah taking a strategic decision to seek other allies to the United States in 2004 in the wake of the invasion of Iraq. It will be interesting to see how this develops over the decades ahead and how prescient Lacey has been on this score and others.
Robert A. Hall
Author: "The Coming Collapse of the American Republic."
The Saud's descend from Muhammad bin Saud who in the mid 18th century aligned with Muhammad al-Wahhab to create a religious-warrior nexus which provided the movement considerable impetus in conquering substantial territories beyond its traditional settlement in Riyadh. It wasn't until the ascendence of Ibn Saud that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was formed. A crucial alignment with the British and the discovery of oil ensured that the Kingdom had a good foundation to operate off.
The book itself has two sections largely due to the fact that much of it seems to be revised, and that seems to be the fundamental flaw in the narrative. The period pre-9/11 is covered beautifully- the siege of Mecca which gave the religious wing an upper hand, the Shia Intifada in the East, the alignments in the Gulf war. Its only 9/11 and post 9/11 that the author does not seem to be able to control what needs to be in the book and the latter quarter of the book reads like a hagiography of King Abdullah.
Saudi Arabia is anachronistic in its social and democratic credentials- loads of money, but limited freedom to protest and significant restrictions on women (there are some interesting poignant anecdotes to back these in the book), what the book achieves is shed light on how the canny House of Saud has managed to balance the powers and yet manage the contradictions of modernity and traditional values. This is a must read for anyone seeking to understand the Kingdom