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Florence of Arabia: A Novel Paperback – September 13, 2005
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From the Inside Flap
Appalled by the punishment of her rebellious friend Nazrah, youngest and most petulant wife of Prince Bawad of Wasabia, Florence Farfarletti decides to draw a line in the sand. As Deputy to the deputy assistant secretary for Near East Affairs, Florence invents a far-reaching, wide-ranging plan for female emancipation in that part of the world.
The U.S. government, of course, tells her to forget it. Publicly, that is. Privately, she's enlisted in a top-secret mission to impose equal rights for the sexes on the small emirate of Matar (pronounced "Mutter"), the "Switzerland of the Persian Gulf." Her crack team: a CIA killer, a snappy PR man, and a brilliant but frustrated gay bureaucrat. Her weapon: TV shows.
The lineup on TV Matar includes "A Thousand and One Mornings, a daytime talk show that features self-defense tips to be used against boyfriends during Ramadan; an addictive soap opera featuring strangely familiar members of the Matar royal family; and a sitcom about an inept but ruthless squad of religious police, pitched as ""Friends from Hell."
The result: the first deadly car bombs in the country since 1936, a fatwa against the station's entire staff, a struggle for control of the kingdom, and, of course, interference from the French. And that's only the beginning.
A merciless dismantling of both American ineptitude andArabic intolerance, "Florence of Arabia is Christopher Buckley's funniest and most serious novel yet, a biting satire of how U.S. good intentions can cause the Shiite to hit the fan.
"From the Hardcover edition.
Top Customer Reviews
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.)
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.
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.
April 11, 2016
Who Runs this Show?
You think you run your life? You think you’re in charge of your perfect suburban life? What forces influence you, and the outcomes you hope for? In Florence of Arabia, the Christopher Buckley critiques the forces of patriarchy, media, feminism, U.S. Foreign policy/government, power, and religion. Unfortunately, while doing so he offers no real solutions, but grim realities.
Buckley refers to these topics usually indirectly, but at other times directly through his characters. Patriarchy is prevalent in Florence of Arabia. It covers the state department, CIA, FBI, the governments of Matar and Wasabi, and even Florence’s “A Team.” All of the people who rank higher than Florence are all male. All of them. The only other significant female character (the Sheik) is portrayed as strong, but constantly persecuted by her husband who rules Matar. At the very beginning of the story we learn of Nazrah and her inability to drive. Why? Because she was prohibited from doing so. “Wasabi women were not permitted to drive.” Not only was she not allowed to drive, but she was not the prince’s only wife. All throughout the novel we hear that every person in middle eastern thrones has many women to choose from. One of the most interesting moments in the novel however is when Florence rejects the orders of the mysterious “Uncle Sam,” and goes it on her own. When she does so all funding and protection stops. The minute anything becomes fundamentally her idea no one stands with her. Even Bobby (who makes love to her more than once in the book) constantly curses at her for her ideas, and desires.
Florence’s desires are commonly called into question when her ideas have the ability to reach others.Read more ›
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This book has an excellent plot and is presented in an original way. Florence seeks to bring stability to the Middle East by using her spicy personality to liberate women via a tv... Read morePublished 3 months ago by Kindle Customer
Spoiler alert – Florence of Arabia starts with the creation of a fictitious Arab television station by an enterprising female CIA operative. Read morePublished 4 months ago by jbpiers
It was pretty good. I have to say I have lost like others better. 3 1/2 stars. Story starts well but sort of dwindled toward end.Published 5 months ago by Kate
The usual Buckley fun and over the top humor coupled with a sharp look at middle eastern society. If you want to better understand what is happening in the middle east and the... Read morePublished 6 months ago by Larry Emmott
I am stubborn, so I actually finished reading this book. Now I admit: it was a terrible waste of time. Terrible plot, it is not Mr. Buckley's best day. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Harro
christopher buckley writes very humorous political satire. they are short and very entertaining, with only a mild dose of a political message underneath. Read morePublished 11 months ago by Allan Mishan