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Saudi Arabia on the Edge: The Uncertain Future of an American Ally (Council on Foreign Relations Books (Potomac Books)) Hardcover – January, 2012


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Saudi Arabia on the Edge: The Uncertain Future of an American Ally (Council on Foreign Relations Books (Potomac Books)) + On Saudi Arabia: Its People, Past, Religion, Fault Lines--and Future + Inside the Kingdom: Kings, Clerics, Modernists, Terrorists, and the Struggle for Saudi Arabia
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Product Details

  • Series: Council on Foreign Relations Books (Potomac Books)
  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Potomac Books Inc. (January 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1597976881
  • ISBN-13: 978-1597976886
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.3 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #349,630 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Tom Lippman has done it again. Saudi Arabia on the Edge is a worthy successor to his classic, Inside the Mirage: America’s Fragile Partnership with Saudi Arabia. Meticulously researched, this fascinating book debunks the myths and stereotypes about Saudi Arabia that pervade Western observations. The author shares with us his wisdom honed by decades of experience in Saudi Arabia. He presents a realistic and occasionally alarming picture of an economic and political giant beset by a gathering storm of challenges in a rapidly changing world. I highly recommend this thoughtful perspective."—Robert W. Jordan, former U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia

"The consummate inside guide to Saudi Arabia by Tom Lippman, the insider’s insider."—Robert Lacey, author of Inside the Kingdom: Kings, Clerics, Modernists, Terrorists, and the Struggle for Saudi Arabia

"Saudi Arabia weathered the Arab Spring of 2011 without the convulsions of many of its neighbors. But Tom Lippman understands that the country has actually undergone social, economic, and even cultural changes over the last four decades as momentous as the political upheavals other Arab countries are now experiencing. His book is a good introduction to the Saudi paradox of social change and political stability and an invaluable guide to the challenges the country faces."—F. Gregory Gause III, chair of the Department of Political Science and former director of the Middle East Studies Program, University of Vermont

"Saudi Arabia on the Edge is an important book by an important writer. It offers a place to start for anyone looking to understand Saudi Arabia and the multiple challenges the country is facing. Lippman shows that Saudi Arabia’s leaders are fully aware of them: a demographic youth bubble, increasing energy consumption at home, an aging leadership, and troubles with Iran, among others. The challenge, of course, is how to manage all of this. One place to start is by reading Lippman’s book."—Rachel Bronson, author of Thicker Than Oil: America’s Uneasy Partnership with Saudi Arabia, and vice president for studies, Chicago Council on Global Affairs

"Thomas Lippman's Saudi Arabia on the Edge is an excellent introduction to Saudi Arabian politics as well as the economic and social challenges facing the Kingdom today. He manages to show the complexities of this country without over simplifying and treats these in a balanced way, eschewing the excessive praise or the vilification that often typify books on the Kingdom. He has been a keen observer of the Saudi scene for a number of decades and his deep insights inform this work. This is best book available for an introduction to contemporary Saudi Arabia."—Bernard Haykel, Professor of Near Eastern Studies; Director, The Transregional Institute, Princeton University

About the Author

Thomas W. Lippman, a former Middle East bureau chief for the Washington Post, is an award-winning journalist who has written about Middle Eastern affairs and American foreign policy for more than three decades. He is a former adjunct senior fellow of the Council on Foreign Relations and an adjunct scholar at the Middle East Institute in Washington. The author of five previously published books on the Middle East and diplomacy, Lippman has appeared frequently on national television and radio. He lives in Washington, D.C.

More About the Author

Thomas W. Lippman is a Washington-based author and journalist who has specialized in Middle Eastern affairs and American foreign policy for more than three decades, and is an experienced analyst of Saudi Arabian affairs, U.S.- Saudi relations, and relations between the West and Islam. He is a former Middle East bureau chief of the Washington Post, and also served as that newspaper's oil and energy reporter. Throughout the 1990s, he covered foreign policy and national security for the Post, traveling frequently to Saudi Arabia and other countries in the Middle East. As an independent writer, he has visited Saudi Arabia every year but one in the past decade.

Lippman is the author of numerous magazine articles, book reviews and op-ed columns about Mideast affairs, and of five books: Understanding Islam (1982, 3d revised edition 2002); Egypt After Nasser (1989); Madeleine Albright and the New American Diplomacy (2000); Inside the Mirage: America's Fragile Partnership with Saudi Arabia (2004) , and Arabian Knight: Colonel Bill Eddy USMC and the Rise of American Power in the Middle East, honored as the best biography of 2008 by the Independent Publishers Association. He is also the author of the essay on Saudi Arabia's defense strategy and nuclear weapons policy published in 2004 by the Brookings Institution Press in The Nuclear Tipping Point, a book on global nuclear proliferation. His latest book, Saudi Arabia on the Edge, was published in January 2012.

A frequent television and radio commentator on Mideast developments, Lippman has appeared on CNN, MSNBC, the BBC, CNBC, ABC and Fox News, and on radio stations in New York, Boston, Phoenix and San Francisco, as well as on television stations overseas. Several of his lectures on Saudi Arabia have been televised nationally by C-SPAN. He has also been a consultant on Middle East affairs to several U.S. government agencies, including the Air Force.

He is currently an adjunct scholar at the Middle East Institute in Washington, where he serves as the principal media contact on Saudi Arabia and U.S. - Saudi relations. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and was formerly an adjunct senior fellow there.

Customer Reviews

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Easy read. took me less than 1/2 the time as normal books.
Amazon Customer
It is evident that Lippman tries to provide a positive trend in Saudi Arabia's social and even economic development.
C P Slayton
I would recommend anyone interested in learning about Saudi Arabia's history, culture and societyto read this book.
Donald W Burns

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By C P Slayton on December 8, 2012
Format: Hardcover
On Washington D.C. license plates it says "no taxation without representation". So what is one to say about a place like Saudi Arabia, a rentier state, where there is no representation but also no taxation? Thomas Lippman does a great job of explaining the difficult religious, political and social dynamics of Saudi Arabia along with their contradictions. It is evident that Lippman tries to provide a positive trend in Saudi Arabia's social and even economic development. While the opening introduction and the start of most chapters begins with an optimistic outlook the author ends each section with tentative hope; a hesitant desire to support the positive trend. In the end, the face of Saudi Arabia is a reflection of the ruler's desires. What King Abdullah has done in the last few years could easily be reversed upon his death and succession.

What is the positive? King Abdullah has pushed for many social reforms. And in a country where society is tied to religion they are bold but limited maneuvers. In Lippman's view, the monarchy must battle to maintain political legitimacy and does so through the Wahhabi religious support, thus religious legitimacy. The monarchy has the power to dismiss, remove, replace Wahhabi clerics that disrupt certain economic or social reforms but too much meddling in the religious establishment could push the fine power balance over the edge.

Lippman looks at a few of King Abdullah's reforms describing the very interesting relationship between the King's 'pet projects' and their impact and reception by society as a whole.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Arbolito on June 11, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a very well done summary of the current situation in a country of tremendous importance to the United States. Mr.Lippmann brings an insider's view of the the many forces that are currently at play, and the pressures to change in a system that has been resistant to cultural change. The topics covered range from economics, religion, the role of women, history of the current leadership, and the effect of an influx of large numbers of temporary workers. It is apparent the the future of this part of the Middle East is about to undergo a major shift, and the book provides considerable insight to what we might expect in the next few years.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By K. Gorzynski on March 12, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book should be required reading for anyone who lives/works in Saudi Arabia. It is very up-to-date and relevant, and extremely informative. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed reading it, I think because it went into enough detail to be useful, but didn't delve so deep to the point that my eyes started glazing over (which is what I assumed would happen when reading a book from the Council on Foreign Relations). The book is very well researched and gives a good overview of the geopolitical and historical contexts in Saudi, which filled in the gaps of my understanding about the country and its culture. I was impressed by the author's breadth and depth of knowledge about the Kingdom. Thank you, Mr. Lippman, for putting this book out there!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By TLXXXVIII on October 14, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Granted, this is the first and only book I have read on the subject of Saudi Arabia, so my knowledge of its overall accuracy is nil. That having been said, it appears to be a very well researched book (with plenty of citations) that covers a broad range of topics, from religion, to history, to economics, to gender, and many points in between. It is unapologetically written to an American audience, but this never gets in the way of the presentation of facts, with prose that is readable but not overly simplistic. Though it does not answer every question, it provides a more than ample foundation for further exploration. For a person who, like myself, finds themselves weeks away from going to the Kingdom for business, I would heartily recommend this book.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Donald W Burns on April 25, 2014
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I would recommend anyone interested in learning about Saudi Arabia's history, culture and societyto read this book. It provides a great overview of the challenges the country faces going forward in the 21st century.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Kevin on October 2, 2012
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Excellent book, Ive spent the past two decades working in Saudi and this nook gives incredible insight and is very factual, so much for experience I could have just purchased the book and saved a decade!
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on May 8, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Easy read. took me less than 1/2 the time as normal books. I am using this book as a reference for my thesis and is one of the more interesting reads. Good at identifying the social and economic conditions that will impact the future stability of Saudi Arabia. many people dont realize the importance of stability within that country for international energy regulation. This book may open the eyes of many who are unfamiliar with the Arabian peninsula.
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