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52 Reviews
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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hilarious!
This was a quick fun read about a US State Department employee turned Agent Provocateur (yes, the French play a role) in a thinly-fictionalized Middle East.

I won't cover the plot points because I don't want to spoil the surprise. Suffice it that I laughed out loud when I saw the title in the "New Releases" section at B&N, read the first couple of chapters,...
Published on January 2, 2005 by Patrick Carroll

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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars It's No 'White House Mess'
Buckley deserves credit for the attempt, and this novel isn't without its charm, but it comes up weak when compared to "Thank You for Smoking" and especially "White House Mess." I turn to Buckley for over-the-top satire with lots of inside jokes, awash in a true understanding of how things work in Washington. Here his plot is a little too earnest and his characters are...
Published on November 28, 2005 by Christopher Good


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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hilarious!, January 2, 2005
This review is from: Florence of Arabia: A Novel (Hardcover)
This was a quick fun read about a US State Department employee turned Agent Provocateur (yes, the French play a role) in a thinly-fictionalized Middle East.

I won't cover the plot points because I don't want to spoil the surprise. Suffice it that I laughed out loud when I saw the title in the "New Releases" section at B&N, read the first couple of chapters, bought it, and read it in an evening - laughing most of the way (there are some sad parts, but there are more outrageously funny ones.)
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars No Role for Peter O'Toole, December 25, 2004
By 
John R. Linnell (New Gloucester, ME United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Florence of Arabia: A Novel (Hardcover)
Those who do not like this satrical novel, probably take themselves and their view of the world too seriously. Christopher Buckley has the gift of taking a situation and writing about it in a compelling and entertaining way which delivers more truth than fiction, often to the discomfort of those whose toes are trod on the hardest.

A character in the book, referred to as Uncle Sam, sums up the situation that has been created well into the book quite neatly when he opines: "As I recall, the mission was to empower Arab women and bring about some kind of stability in the Middle East. There were those who said, 'Are you out of your mind?' Others said, 'We've tried everything else, why not give it a shot? What harm can it do??" Ha! And how did it all turn out? With a coup detat - and how appropriate to use the French term for it - against the only stable country in the region. Not only did it not work, but it brought about the further enslavement of two point five million Arab women, along with the empwerment of a psychotic race-car driver, to say nothing of a whopping increase in Wasabi oil prices that may well determine the outcome of the next presidential election. And did I mention France getting naval bases in the Gulf?

And that's far from the end of the story.

It's a fun ride and done so very well. Hop on and enjoy the trip.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Buckley Persuades Like No One Else, July 10, 2006
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I sought this book because Buckley is my favorite author. I began with "Thank You For Smoking" and then read all of his works. Until this tome, only "Little Green Men" matched the superb wit and wordplay of TYFS.

This may be Buckley's best work yet. While I read it for the laughs, this novel is both informative and persuasive on the political circumstances of the middle east. Moreso than any editorial or talking head, this book demonstrates both the madness of the sheiks and playboy princes of the middle east, not to mention the mullahs, but also the futility of western intervention.

In the final analysis, this book may stand alongside Gulliver's Travels in the annals of great satire.

Brilliant, and I can't wait for Buckley's next work.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Buckley is at the Top of His Game in This One!, April 6, 2006
By 
Joey Morgan "Unabashed book junkie" (Royal Manticoran Navy Third Fleet) - See all my reviews
I got this book because I enjoyed "No Way to Treat a First Lady". As I listened to it in my car, I must have gasped, sniggered, chuckled, snorted and laughed out loud often enough to make the drivers in the next lane wonder if I needed any special medication. This book is witty, entertaining, and like all the best satire, provides an all-too accurate look at some of the crimes and foibles of our past and present. The plot utterly fails to be predictable, the humor is twice as funny because you know IT REALLY COULD HAPPEN EXACTLY THIS WAY!

The excellent narration on the audio version added even more to the enjoyment, as the reader had a voice for every character and there was never any doubt who was speaking.

An excellent read or listen, not to be missed by those who appreciate political humor and satire.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Buckley's best novel yet, October 2, 2004
By 
Daniel Price (Los Angeles, CA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Florence of Arabia: A Novel (Hardcover)
Christopher Buckley is a satirist extraordinaire, but what really separates him from others is the way he blends so much truth into his farce. For a novel that involves two fictional Middle Eastern countries, an exploding camel, and a twisted sitcom called "Mukfellahs," Buckley weaves in enough detailed reality to fill a documentary. Without preaching or demonizing, he makes several salient points about the treatment of women in Arab and Muslim society, and the tangled, co-dependent relationship the oil-powered world has with the Middle East. (Jingoists can relax. In Buckley's story, France gets it worse than the good old U.S. of A.)

Underlying truths aside, "Florence of Arabia" has the most detailed, sympathetic and ultimately hysterical cast of characters than any of Buckley's previous novels. The friendship between Florence and Laila was particularly well-done (I found it much more resonant than the somewhat underdeveloped romance between Florence and a rogue CIA agent).

All in all, fans of Buckley will be far from disappointed. Fans of humor and action (there's a LOT of action in this book) will definitely enjoy it. Fans of the Carlyle Group, however, might find this story a whole different mutter.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is a Fantastic Read, December 24, 2004
By 
Tim "hlsch18" (Garden City, MI United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Florence of Arabia: A Novel (Hardcover)
Buckley again proves his great talent as a satirist. This is far better than "Thank You for Smoking" and a little better than " Little Green Men" both of which, were great. By the way the incident of the religious police shoving the female students back into the burning building is true. Despite the fact that this book is based on the truth some of it quite tragic ,as the above incident, Buckley manages to to make this great fun and a terrific read.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Funny Book...That Makes You Think, August 23, 2005
By 
C. Robinson (Fallbrook, CA USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Florence of Arabia: A Novel (Hardcover)
Florence of Arabia is an action-packed book that's full of fun names for people and places, as you'd guess from its name (e.g., it takes place in a fictional Middle East country--Matar...pronounced "mutter"). But it also inspires thought about a serious subject--the treatment of woman in the Middle East--and the impact that one (albeit fictional) person's actions can have to create positive change on the planet. I highly recommend it!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Buckley achieves the near impossible: a Middle East comedy, January 2, 2006
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This review is from: Florence of Arabia: A Novel (Hardcover)
There hasn't been much of anything to laugh at in the Middle East since Saddam Hussein's propaganda minister was proclaiming the defeat of the Allied invaders while Allied tanks were rolling down the streets outside his Baghdad television studio. Yet somehow, in Florence of Arabia ("FofA") Christopher Buckley manages to produce an overall funny and on occasion hilarious comedy about the political conflicts in the Middle East.

Buckley does not shy away from anyone. Some of the funniest scenes in FofA concern the "Waldorf Group", a thinly-veiled reference to the Carlyle Group, and how it uses its high-level connections, inside information and control to profit obscenely from government dealings. Other targets of Buckley's wit include the United States and French governments and bureaucracies, the corrupt hereditary rulers of the Middle East, and the cultural differences between the West and the Middle East.

My main criticism of FofA is that, at times, Buckley departs from satire and includes scenes more typical of a thriller. There is a long car chase sequence that would be more appropriate in one of Ian Fleming's James Bond novels. The characters are a bit stereotyped, especially CIA/military operative Bobby Thibodeaux.

I've read all of Buckley's novels, and have enjoyed them all to varying degrees. In my opinion, his all-time best remain "Thank You for Smoking", which lampoons the tobacco industry, Washington lobbyists and the public relations profession; "God is My Broker", which takes on Wall Street and the church; and "No Way to Treat a First Lady", which recounts the highlights of the Clinton years. Each of these other books has much richer source material to draw upon, and hence is more hilarious than "Florence of Arabia".

I eagerly look forward to Buckley's next effort, and wonder what he will choose as his subject (professional sports? the media? global warming?). As did Mark Twain, Christopher Buckley performs an admirable service to our nation by pointing out our hypocrisies and keeping us laughing at ourselves.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Satire pushed to the edge...., April 2, 2006
This wonderful Christopher Buckley novel was recommended to me as a hilarious tale of disguise and satire. Although, it is certainly satire, the bite is much too harsh for me to find it humorous. Once I relinquished my notion of this as humor, I found the novel both illuminating and enjoyable, as a brave woman forges ahead with her plan to bring empowerment to the women of the Mid-East. Very well written and fascinating, I recommened this book despite quite a bit of violence and brutality, which generally speaking, is not my cup of tea.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Funny! Scary!, April 4, 2007
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This review is from: Florence of Arabia: A Novel (Hardcover)
The premise of this exceptional book is silly - send an American woman to a moderate Middle Eastern country to start up an Oprah-like gab-fest for the veiled ladies of the Middle East, rile them up by showing them what they are lacking, and let them lead the revolt to free the Middle East of tyranny, mullahs, and Sharia. This is funny stuff and it actually makes sense. But there are men - American government official? - working behind the scenes, pulling the strings, stirring the pot. What begins as a funny romp of cultural clashes ends as a searing yet plausible expose of who really runs the world. For anyone interested in what is going on in the world today, and anyone that likes a good conspiracy - this is a must read.
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Florence of Arabia: A Novel
Florence of Arabia: A Novel by Christopher Buckley (Hardcover - September 14, 2004)
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