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The Rise, Corruption and Coming Fall of the House of Saud 1st St. Martin's ed Edition

23 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0312125417
ISBN-10: 0312125410
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Saudi Arabia, the world's leading oil producer, is also the world's most absolute feudal monarchy and the place where the gap between the haves and have-nots is the widest. Journalist Aburish (Pay-Off: Wheeling and Dealing in the Arab World) takes a close look at the 90-year-old dynasty, emphasizing recent history and the House of Saud's dictatorial, profligate and increasingly corrupt ways, aided in the last instance by U.S. oil companies. He compares the present situation in Saudi Arabia with Iran before the overthrow of the Shah in 1979?"blind, oblivious haughtiness by a hated ruling class." With a national debt approaching $100 billion, the country's financial structure is on the verge of collapse. The West, says the author, must take immediate drastic action before a revolution results in a cessation of oil production, worldwide depression and the possibility of a jihad, or holy war, against the infidel West if, for instance, UN forces tried to occupy the oil fields. Aburish urges a complete reversal of U.S. policy, with Washington pressuring the House of Saud to share the national wealth with the Saudi people, to begin protecting their human rights and to give them a voice in the country's affairs. A well-researched and provocative expose/denunciation of Arabia's powerful ruling clan. Photos.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

The House of Saud rose to prominence during the 18th century, but it wasn't until the early 1900s that Abdul Aziz Rahman Al Saud (Ibn Saud) seized control of what is now Saudi Arabia. The House has come under fire from both the Shi'ite populations of the Islamic world and an increasingly large number of its own citizens. In this scathing account, the author contends that the members of the royal house are ruining the country with their self-indulgent spending and unnecessary military "toys." He states that the West must stop tolerating the Saudi persistence in maintaining the status quo. Aburish (Cry Palestine: Inside the West Bank, LJ 9/1/93) calls for "massive interference" in Saudi internal affairs to introduce controls on the "colossally wasteful habits of the royal family." He also urges an increase in oil prices and recommends that King Fahd be forced to form an independent consultative council and subordinate the succession to "the pressing needs for reform." Aburish's point is well taken, but his strident tone often overwhelms his argument. Recommended for large libraries with major collections in this area.?David P. Snider, Casa Grande P.L., Ariz.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 328 pages
  • Publisher: St Martins Pr; 1st St. Martin's ed edition (June 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312125410
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312125417
  • Product Dimensions: 1.5 x 6.5 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,325,997 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 12, 1999
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Once you read this book it will be extremely difficult NOT to allow your revulsion for the Saudi Government and the "Royals" which populate it get in the way of objectivity toward the Saudis in general. This is a well-documented and classic study of the totally undeserving being handed incredibly good fortune and totally abusing the opportunity. Without retelling the story, suffice it to say, it addresses an inconsequential tribe of Bedouins who, due to being in the right place at the right time, are thrust onto the world's center stage and instead of making the most of the opportunity to be a positive force, use their good fortune in the most self-serving ways one can imagine (unfortunately with the "help" of Britain and the United States [aka as the Arabian American Oil Company]). (I lived in an ARAMCO compound, Ras Tanura, from 1961-1963 and I believe what I read squares with some of my experiences there.) This is a story of the total abuse of governmental privilege, of human rights, and of the opportunity to unite the positive aspects of Arab/Muslim culture with an entry into modernity. My guess is, many of you who think you know Saudi Arabia and Saudis, don't, and if you're interested in what is going on in that country, and with Western complicity in human rights violations and abuses of governmental privilege that would not be tolerated elsewhere, read this book. It addresses history, economics, and the human condition. It IS an eye-opener even for one who lived in the country and has been back since he lived there.
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31 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Eric Gudorf on June 10, 2002
Format: Paperback
This is a useful book in that it challenges the public image that the Saudi royal family has put much effort and money into establishing, especially here in the West. That image is one of a benign monarchy, one that provides generously for its people while promoting geopolitical stability in the region. Needless to say, Mr. Aburish presents a radically different view, one of a brutal family run dictatorship that is corrupt to the core and which ruthlessly squashes dissent at home while sowing seeds of disunity among the other nations of the region. There is no doubt but that, in daring to write this exposé, Mr. Aburish provides a useful service, since neither the governments nor the media in the West show much interest in examining the Saudi government with a truly critical eye, although to some extent this can be explained by the inherent cynicism of mainstream journalism. After all, it is pretty much taken as a given that most regimes in the area are corrupt, repressive and autocratic, so reporting such is basically a "Dog bites man" type of story.
Mr. Aburish's problem is that he simply goes overboard. His attacks too often seem personal in nature, although this can be explained by the fact that he dedicated this book to a friend who had been tortured to death by the Saudi secret police. He brings a sense of passion to this work, which is laudable, but too often it causes him to abandon any sense of objectivity in his quest to lambaste the House of Saud. As a result, this book reads less like the work of a professional journalist and more like a one-man act of personal vengeance. At times it becomes downright silly, such as when he attacks Saudi patriarch Ibn Saud for buying 40 Packards, which he derides as being "the most vulgar car of the 1940's".
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25 of 31 people found the following review helpful By lisatheratgirl VINE VOICE on December 11, 1999
Format: Paperback
This book is well-written, well-documented and important. The author (who is writing from a country outside Saudi Arabia, but is himself a Saudi) minces no words in discussing the history, government and Royal Family. My personal view is that it is important to read books about other countries that are not authored by Americans. While this country has much more freedom in what is allowed to be written, read, published and broadcasted (the chapter on the Saudi press was very chilling), the media here tends to oversimplify many issues, and people don't take the time to hunt out other sources. Thus, another country is our "friend" one day in the news, the next they are "the enemy" and politics, foreign loans, arms deals, and all sorts of other goings-on are not really explained. This author explains the reasons behind everything that has been happening in the Middle East from 1900 on, and I certainly learned a lot about the Gulf War. In addition, I have read several books from the women's viewpoint in Saudi Arabia (e.g., Princess, Eight Months on Ghazzah Street), but this shows what is going on with the men in the ruling class. The author also did a good job of convincing me that the Saudi people may not be of one mind with the Royal Family, and that ordinary citizens can be subject to many abuses. Anyone who is interested in the Middle East ought to read this book. Informative, compelling and convincing.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Glynn T Ellis, Jr. on May 29, 2002
Format: Paperback
It is difficult to imagine holding the Saudi royal family in lower esteem than does Mr. Aburish. Even so, he may very well be providing a popular Arab/Muslim view, and that alone is good reason Western students of the Middle East should read this book. Aburish shows why the House of Saud often pursues conflicting foreign policies, or policies that alleviate problems in the short term while exacerbating them in the long run. He presents countless royal family excesses and political missteps, and explains why the family is unpopular with its neighbors and perhaps with many of its fellow Saudis.
Though very informative, this book should be taken with a grain of salt. The author is by no means unbiased, and some of his facts and examples are not supported or don't square with other accounts. For instance, the report of the meeting between King Fahd and then Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney immediately after the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait is very different from that of General Norman Schwarzkopf. While Schwarzkopf was present, Aburish was not and we are not told who his source was. In my own limited dealings with several of the royal family members (I was a military advisor before and during the Gulf War) I found those that I worked with to be dedicated, competent officers. Admittedly, their numbers were few and I have no knowledge of their personal lives.
In any event, if the author is correct in his assertions, and I suspect he is, America's continued unconditional support of the Saudi monarchy could eventually backfire. Aburish surmises that unless the United States actively encourages the House of Saud to reduce excesses and put forth more effort on behalf of the Saudi people, the result could be a situation similar to when the Shah of Iran was overthrown by Islamic fundalmentalists.
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