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America's Kingdom: Mythmaking on the Saudi Oil Frontier (Stanford Studies in Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies and Cultures) Paperback – March 2, 2009

ISBN-13: 978-1844673131 ISBN-10: 1844673138 Edition: New Updated Edition

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Product Details

  • Series: Stanford Studies in Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies and Cultures
  • Paperback: 354 pages
  • Publisher: Verso; New Updated Edition edition (March 2, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1844673138
  • ISBN-13: 978-1844673131
  • Product Dimensions: 1.1 x 5.4 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #173,315 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“A devastating critique of the US-Saudi relationship.”—Tariq Ali, Guardian

“A scholarly and readable book on the interaction between Saudi society and Aramco, the US oil giant that had its beginnings when the Saudi government granted its first concessions to Standard Oil of California in 1933. Combining history with political geography, Vitalis sheds a bright light on the origins and less savory aspects of the Saudi-US relationship.”—London Review of Books

“Groundbreaking is a word too often used in assessing historical scholarship. Yet its application to Robert Vitalis’s book is nothing less than a necessity. The result of painstaking research in not only heretofore unused but previously unknown records, the book makes a major contribution to a variety of fields: international history, US-Saudi relations, business history, American race history, and more ... Those seeking to explain the present US place in the world should consider it essential reading.”—American Historical Review

About the Author

Robert Vitalis is Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Pennsylvania. He is author of When Capitalists Collide: Business Conflict and the End of Empire in Egypt and co-editor of Counter-Narratives: History, Contemporary Society, and Politics in Saudi Arabia and Yemen.

Customer Reviews

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A must read for anyone interested in the Middle East, us foreign policy and resource management.
Shea Johnson
Mr. Vitalis excels at uncovering obscure source documents that help him weave these players into the narrative and bring history to life.
Malvin
This book, "America's Kingdom," is really just focuses on the American influence on Aramco, and Aramco's influence on Washington.
Caraculiambro

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Karim on February 2, 2012
I bought this book without much thought, and began thumbing through the introduction by chance. I could not drop it afterwards. This very detailed study of the policies of Aramco in Saudi Arabia manages to connect Middle Eastern history, orientalism, racism and US Jim Crow practices into a very cogent and fluent narrative. Fact-orientated, it does not eschew theory (in the introduction only though), and should be, despite its narrow subject, a must read for anyone vaguely interested in modern Middle Eastern history, as it gives a glimpse into the changing terms of the Saudi-US relationship.

Not to mention that anyone having worked in an expatriate environment in the Middle East will recognise quite a few of the nowadays subtler forms of ethnic discrimination and domination described in Vitalis' book...

To be recommended!
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Malvin VINE VOICE on December 31, 2009
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"America's Kingdom" by Robert Vitalis is a deeply fascinating history of the U.S. in Saudi Arabia in the mid 20th century. Mr. Vitalis, who is an Associate Professor at the University of Pennsylvania, seeks to correct the mythmaking that has obscured the real story for far too long, dedicating many years of research to this project. The result is an exacting piece of scholarship that produces remarkable insight into the forces that have shaped U.S. relations with the Middle East.

The book is divided into two parts. The first section focuses on the labor practices of ARAMCO in Saudi Arabia. Mr. Vitalis astutely compares and contrasts the industrial practices of other U.S.-based extractive industries to find that ARAMCO simply imposed upon its Saudi clients what had already been learned elsewhere: namely, to divide and conquer the local labor force; control the political process; and extract maximum profits. In this particular case, of course, Mr. Vitalis details how ARAMCO's efforts were fully supported by a U.S. government intent on pursuing its geopolitical ambitions on the world stage, in which the control of oil played no small part.

The second part tells the story of worker struggle, politics and power. Debunking the myths that had been carefully constructed by corporate public relations professionals and sympathetic government officials, Mr. Vitalis decisively shows how worker's rights were gained by popular struggle and not from enlightened corporate policies. Through Mr. Vitalis' engrossing narrative, we see how American interests came to ally itself ever more closely with the Kingdom as a means to ensuring a steady flow of oil and projecting American power into the region.
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This book has a labor-history focus that transcends traditional breaks between diplo and social history. The title does not capture the book's incredible scope and synthesis. WOW! People should, IMO, get this book now.

WOW! Hard to imagine a book withe more disparate intersections of key themes in 20th century US AND ALSO international history! The only book I could compare it to is the incredible Thy Will Be Done: Nelson Rockefeller, Evangelism, and the Conquest of the Amazon in the Age of Oil, a title which ALSO completely fails to capture the essence of its intersections. That and of course, the best book yet written on the history of the US National Security State, JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It Matters, a book that Charlie Rose censored from PBS when RFK Jr. held it up in Dallas, January 11, 2013.

Among other things this book helps you understands key buried Big Inch and Little Inch moments that run through the history of the 20th century Democratic Party. There is too much money to be made in our not seeing this longer term view, so this book is necessary.
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Verified Purchase
This incredibly well read book intertwines the history of ARAMCO and American foreign policy within the Middle East. Vitalis' text informs without using poli sci specific jargon and is as entertaining as a Le Carre novel. Many have stated that this book debunks the relationship between Saudi Arabia and the US. However, I believe in reading theoretical texts critically. Despite some holes in his argument this text is enjoyable and informing. A must read for anyone interested in the Middle East, us foreign policy and resource management.
Enjoy
SJ
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Caraculiambro on January 29, 2010
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If you're looking for a discussion of the nature of the U.S.-Saudi political relationship, I would recommend Inside The Mirage: America's Fragile Partnership with Saudi Arabia. This book, "America's Kingdom," is really just focuses on the American influence on Aramco, and Aramco's influence on Washington.

There's another, far less excellent history of Aramco out there, from several years ago, the error-filled Oil, God, and Gold: The Story of Aramco and the Saudi Kings.
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