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Comment: This book has already been loved by someone else. It MIGHT have some wear and tear on the edges, have some markings in it, or be an ex-library book. Over-all it is still a good book at a great price! (if it is supposed to contain a CD or access code, that may be missing)
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Florence of Arabia: A Novel Paperback – September 13, 2005

3.9 out of 5 stars 65 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

One has to admire the pluck of an author who dares satirize what may be the touchiest subject in the country today: Arab American relations. Buckley (No Way to Treat a First Lady, etc.) jumps into the sandstorm feet first with this tale of scrappy Florence Farfaletti, Deputy to the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Near East Affairs. When a friend of Florence's who is married to Prince Bawad of Wasabia is executed, Florence proposes a plan to free the women of the Middle East. Covertly accepted by the U. S. Government, the plan involves creating a TV station in Wasabia's neighboring country, Matar, which instigates a revolution with broadcasts that, among other things, encourage women to throw off their burkas. Humor and action are in great supply, and reader Kalember (whom 40-somethings may remember as Susannah Hart from the series Thirtysomething) handles both with aplomb. The serene stability of her voice is a good foil for the story's calamitous happenings but, at the same time, her voice conveys a certain vulnerability and righteousness that makes her portrayal of Florence completely believable. As an added bonus, Kalember's delivery of the English-as-a-second-language Arab characters is both sympathetic and hilarious.
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

The bestselling author who made mincemeat of political correctness in "Thank You for Smoking, conspiracy theories in "Little Green Men, and Presidential indiscretions "No Way to Treat a First Lady now takes on the hottest topic in the entire world-Arab-American relations-in a blistering comic novel sure to offend the few it doesn't delight.
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.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Random House Trade Paperbacks; Reprint edition (September 13, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0812972260
  • ISBN-13: 978-0812972269
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.6 x 8.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (65 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #141,760 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Patrick Carroll VINE VOICE on January 2, 2005
Format: 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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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
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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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
James Thornock
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 ›
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Format: Paperback
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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