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Faysal: Saudi Arabia's King for All Seasons Hardcover – October 5, 2008

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: University Press of Florida; 1st edition (October 5, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0813032423
  • ISBN-13: 978-0813032429
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,462,237 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Book Description

The ruler who transformed Saudi Arabia into a global power

"In the past 30 years, many books have appeared on Saudi Arabia, some informative and some laden with disinformation. In the process, much has been written about King Faysal, who can arguably be said to have brought modernization to the Saudi state his father founded. It is therefore heartening to read a work that takes his story a step further by giving the reader a scholarly yet readable account of his lifelong dedication to public service. The author is to be congratulated."--David Long, author of The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

"Kechichian's masterful account of the life of Saudi Arabia's King Faysal is a welcome addition to the literature. In contrast to many recent books on Saudi Arabia, Faysal stands in terms of its objectivity and professionalism. This highly engaging book provides a unique perspective on the origins of modern Saudi Arabia. The wisdom embodied in this carefully researched study will make it the standard for years to come."--Robert Looney, author of Economic Development in Saudi Arabia

King Faysal (1906-1975) ruled Saudi Arabia from 1964 until his assassination eleven years later. By that point his legacy as one of the most instrumental actors in the development of the modern Middle East had been assured.

Faysal bin Abdul 'Aziz Al Sa'ud had first served as a key diplomat and foreign minister for Saudi Arabia when he was prince and heir apparent. Always a keen decision-maker, he established important relationships not only in the region but also with European nations and the United States. By the time he ascended to the throne, Faysal understood how dependent many nations were on his country's oil, an understanding that led to the oil embargo of 1973 and the solidification of Saudi Arabia's leadership, wealth, and power.

In Faysal, Joseph Kechichian offers the first biography of the ruler in decades, and the first to make use of interviews and key archival and declassified documents. Utilizing the same writing style that has earned accolades from The Economist and other publications, Kechichian offers a balanced assessment of Faysal and his impact. Any understanding of the ties between Saudi Arabia and the West is incomplete without this book.

Joseph A. Kechichian is CEO of the consulting partnership Kechichian & Associates, which provides analysis on the Persian Gulf region.

About the Author

Joseph A. Kechichian is CEO of the consulting partnership Kechichian & Associates, which provides analysis on the Persian Gulf region. He is the author of Succession in Saudi Arabia; Iran, Iraq, and the Arab Gulf States; and Power and Succession in Arab Monarchies.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Tired of Lobbyists on January 23, 2009
Format: Hardcover
A solid assessment of a poorly understood monarch's policies, this new historical biography adds significant new details on King Faysal, certainly one of the Arab World's towering figures. The reader is invited to judge for himself and while extremists and fundamentalists (whether they happen to be Jewish, Christian or Muslim) will be unhappy with its findings, the narrative provides rare insights on the King's thinking based on primary documents, speeches given by the King, declassified documents, and interviews with former American diplomats who knew Faysal well.
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3 of 11 people found the following review helpful By MEH on December 22, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I am currently a graduate student studying at one of the leading ME studies programs in the country. Our class was given this book for free and our professor asked us to review the book. I can honestly say that this is the worst, most blatantly apologist, uncritical, "academic" piece I have ever been assigned to read about the Middle East. Where can I even begin with all the flaws of this book?

1) As is made blatantly evident in the acknoweldgments section and the introduction, Kechichian received his funding for this book from basically family members of Faysal, and conducted the majority of his research with the assistance of the King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies. I'm just going to hypothesize that this might help explain the completely uncritical tone he takes towards King Faysal during the entire book. Though Faysal was undoubtedly a great king, he was not a saint, and failing to address his (sometimes) harsh responses to potential threats as well as his oft-cited anti-Semitism helps to completely undermine any semblance of objectivity.

2) Lack of citations. I appreciate that citations are not the end all be all of what makes for a serious academic work, but Kechichian has a tendency to make statements that contradict basically every other work on the Middle East (for instance, his denigration of St. John Philby, a British citizen who converted to Islam and was one of King Abdul Aziz's most trusted advisors) without providing any evidence to support his statements. This really only further leaves the reader feeling that this book is propaganda, as the most unsupported claims tend to conveniently explain away incidents that might taint King Faysal by attributing them as misunderstandings or to the devious machinations of others.
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