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House of Bush, House of Saud: The Secret Relationship Between the World's Two Most Powerful Dynasties Hardcover – March 16, 2004

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Editorial Reviews Review

The perilous ramifications of the September 11 attacks on the United States are only now beginning to unfold. They will undoubtedly be felt for generations to come. This is one of many sad conclusions readers will draw from Craig Unger's exceptional book House of Bush House of Saud: The Secret Relationship Between the World's Two Most Powerful Dynasties. As Unger claims in this incisive study, the seeds for the "Age of Terrorism" and September 11 were planted nearly 30 years ago in what, at the time, appeared to be savvy business transactions that subsequently translated into political currency and the union between the Saudi royal family and the extended political family of George H. W. Bush. On the surface, the claim may appear to be politically driven, but as Unger (a respected investigative journalist and editor) probes--with scores of documents and sources--the political tenor of the U.S. over the last 30 years, the Iran-Iraq War, the war in Afghanistan, the birth of Al Qaeda, the dubious connection between members of the Saudi Royal family and the exportation of terror, and the personal fortunes amassed by the Bush family from companies such as Harken Energy and the Carlyle Group, he exposes the "brilliantly hidden agendas and purposefully murky corporate relationships" between these astonishingly powerful families. His evidence is persuasive and reveals a devastating story of Orwellian proportions, replete with political deception, shifting allegiances, and lethal global consequences. Unger begins his book with the remarkable story of the repatriation of 140 Saudis directly following the September 11 attacks. He ends where Richard A. Clarke begins, questioning the efficacy of the war in Iraq in the battle against terrorism. We are unquestionably facing a global security crisis unlike any before. President Bush insists that we will prevail, yet as Unger so effectively concludes, "Never before has an American president been so closely tied to a foreign power that harbors and supports our country's mortal enemies." --Silvana Tropea

From Publishers Weekly

In this potentially explosive book, investigative journalist Unger, who has written for the New Yorker, Esquire and Vanity Fair, pieces together the highly unusual and close personal and financial relationships between the Bush family and the ruling family of Saudi Arabia—and questions the implications for Bush's preparedness, or possible lack thereof, for September 11. What could forge such an unlikely alliance between the leader of the free world and the leaders of a stifling Islamic theocracy? First and foremost, according to Unger, is money. He compiles figures in an appendix indicating over $1.4 billion worth of business between the Saudi royal family and businesses tied (sometimes loosely) to the House of Bush, ranging from donations to the Bush presidential library to investments with the Carlyle Group ("a well-known player in global commerce" for which George H.W. Bush has been a senior advisor and his secretary of state, James Baker, is a partner), to deals with Halliburton, of which Dick Cheney was CEO. James Baker’s law firm even defended the House of Saud in a lawsuit brought by relatives of victims of September 11. Unger also questions whether the Bush grew so complacent about the Saudis that his administration ignored then White House terrorism czar Richard Clarke’s repeated warnings and recommendations about the Saudis and al-Qaeda. Another question raised by Unger’s research is whether millions in Saudi money given to U.S. Muslim groups may have delivered a crucial block of Muslim votes to George W. Bush in 2000—and it’s questions like that will make some readers wonder whether Unger is applying a chainsaw to issues that should be dissected with a scalpel. But whether one buys Unger’s arguments or not, there’s little doubt that with this intensely researched, well-written book he has poured more flame onto the political fires of 2004.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner; 1st Edition, 1st Printing edition (March 16, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 074325337X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743253376
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.2 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (146 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #624,922 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Craig Unger is the New York Times bestselling author of House of Bush, House of Saud; Boss Rove, and other books. The former editor in chief of Boston Magazine, he has written for The New Yorker, Esquire, The New York Times, and many other publications, and is currently a contributing editor of Vanity Fair magazine. A graduate of Harvard University, he has appeared as an analyst on dozens of broadcast outlets. He lives in New York City.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

322 of 332 people found the following review helpful By Craig Unger on October 14, 2004
Format: Hardcover
As the author of House of Bush, House of Saud, I am not sure if it is appropriate to respond here, but I did not want erroneous right wing criticism of my book to stand without a rebuttal. "Seeker of Truth" claims my figure of $860 billion invested by the Saudis in the US is "a factoid" which I invented. The source was Allan Gerson, an attorney representing the families of 9/11 victims. (...)
Likewise, Seeker of Truth takes issue with the fact that I found more than $1.4 billion in investments and contracts going from the Saudis to companies with ties to the Bushes. He writes, "The main problem with this figure, according to Carlyle spokesman Chris Ullman, is that former president Bush didn't join the Carlyle advisory board until April, 1998-five months after Carlyle had already sold BDM to another defense firm."

My critic uncritically accepts the explanation of Carlyle's publicist, leaving the reader with the impression that the Bush family and its allies had little or no relationship with the Carlyle Group until 1998. If that were true, he might have a point.

But in fact, the Bush-Carlyle relationship began eight years earlier when the Carlyle Group put George W. Bush on the board of one of its subsidiaries, Caterair, in 1990. In 1993, after the Bush-Quayle administration left office and George H. W. Bush and James Baker were free to join the private sector, the Bush family's relationship with the Carlyle Group began to become substantive.

By the end of that year, key figures at the Carlyle Group included such powerful Bush colleagues as James Baker, Frank Carlucci, and Richard Darman. Because George W. Bush's role at Carlyle had been marginal, the $1.4 billion figure includes no contracts that predated the arrival of Baker, Carlucci and Darman at Carlyle.
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74 of 75 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 29, 2004
Format: Hardcover
The author, using solid and extensive references, demonstrates year by year and step by step the evolution of the relationship between the Bush family and their associates with the House of Saud, and by extension, the house of bin Laden. The weight of the evidence that such an association exists is the sheer number of shared business endeavors, business associates (who are later appointed government officials) and mutual interests - too much for it to be coincidence. The consummation of this association is the outright courting (and winning) by the Bush campaign of the radical Muslim vote in Florida in 2000 and the subsequent loosening of immigration requirements for Saudi Arabians. The last chapter (I will not give it away) will sweep the reader into a dimension where the game of playing both sides by the rich and powerful (both Bush and Saud) comes suddenly crashing down in a deadly tragedy for thousands of Americans. Now we can see why Richard Clarke maintains the Bush administration did little pre-9/11 to pursue Al Qaida - what he doesn't say (but this book documents) is that Al Qaida is the stepchild of Saudi Arabian royalty, and that it is Saudi Arabian royalty that has helped propel the Bush family into power. A chilling read that explains so many questions we have. Read it, share it.
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116 of 123 people found the following review helpful By J Frankel on July 5, 2004
Format: Hardcover
What a remarkable job Craig Unger does of pulling together disparate threads into what becomes the easily identifiable quilt that is the Bush-Saud relationship. I cannot think of a more important work of non-fiction written over the past thirty years.
In part because of the conservative criticism they drew, my last three reads were Plan of Attack (Woodward), Against All Enemies (Clarke), and The Price of Loyalty (Suskind). I'd heard of House of Bush, but it didn't seem to be drawing much ire from the right. Now I see why: It's footnoted and chapter-noted to the extreme; its facts beyond reproach. There are simply precious few (if any) chinks in Unger's armor for the right to attack. I've yet to see any serious criticisms of Unger's work. (You can bet the book's been picked apart, yet I've not seen anyone publicizing factual inaccuracies. There's simply no spin to use against Unger's masterful marshalling of the facts.)
This book -- and Michael Moore's movie -- should be made available free of charge to Republicans and Independents in battleground states. You can't read the one or see the other without being profoundly bothered (though I'll concede that Moore can be a tad over-the-top).
In years to come, this book should be required reading in history classes worldwide. My thanks to Craig Unger for setting the record straight.
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53 of 55 people found the following review helpful By Jon Linden VINE VOICE on March 29, 2004
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
In Craig Unger's book, he reveals an incredible link between Saudi money, and the last 40 years of the Bush family and their business dealings and investments. It turns out that Prescott Bush, the Senator from CT, and father of George Bush Sr. '41 was something else, before he retired to be a Senator from CT. He was the Managing Partner of Brown Brothers Harriman which is a private bank, used only by the rich and famous, as today, BBH will not take an account for less than $3 million in cash/securities.
Through these money connections and through Bush '41 and Bush '43 oil connections, incredible amounts of Saudi money were invested in companies that were either owned by the Bush family or that the family had interest in. The biggest of these is the Carlyle Group, a giant private equity company. Unger estimates that $1.4 Billion was invested by Saudi's in the Carlyle Group which very much directly benefitted the Bush family.
But the most interesting part of Unger's book, is the fact that it was published between that of O'Neill's book and Clarke's book, and thus got a bit of the short shrift in the marketing department. However, Unger's book supports both O'Neill's book and Clarke's book.
Apparently, a little known fact is that during the period between 9/11 and 9/13/2001, there were several commercial non-military airplanes flying over the skies of the US of A. These planes contained members of the Saudi Royal Family and the Bin Laden family, who were congregating in Lexington, KY in readiness to evacuate the country.
No one else was allowed to fly. Former President Clinton was stuck in Australia at the time and was not allowed to fly back in. Former V-P Al Gore was in Austria at the time and was not allowed to fly back in.
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