- Paperback: 274 pages
- Publisher: Cambridge University Press (August 12, 2002)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9780521644129
- ISBN-13: 978-0521644129
- ASIN: 0521644127
- Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 0.8 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #336,292 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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A History of Saudi Arabia
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"An accessible narrative that even those readers already familiar with the outlines of Saudi history can read with profit." Middle East Policy
"The book...is written in a style that quite simply makes for a 'good read.' If I were recommending one book on the history of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia...this would be it." Middle East Journal
"Al-Rasheed's book is concise, timely, and well suited for a broad readership...Skillfully written and insightful." History: Reviews of New Books
"Madawi Al-Rasheed's critical reinterpretation of Saudi Arabian history is not only timely, it is provocative. It is informed by both excellent scholarship and a familiarity with the subject that comes from knowing it from the inside. Both sympathizers with and critics of the country will find their stereotypes of the Saudi reality challenged." F. Gregory Gause, III, University of Vermont
"This is one of the most refreshing, well-researched and clearly-written books to appear on Saudia Arabia in recent times." Hala Fattah, Bulletin of the Royal Institute for Inter-Faith Studies
"Al-Rasheed has written a strong general history of Saudi Arabia that at the same time offers analysis of selected narrower issues and phenomena." - Peter C. Valenti, New York University
Saudi Arabia is a wealthy and powerful country which wields influence in the West and across the Islamic world. Yet it remains a closed society. The author traces its history from the age of emirates in the nineteenth century to the present day. Fusing chronology with analysis, personal experience with oral histories, she illuminates the social and cultural life of the Saudis. This is a rich and rewarding book which will be invaluable to students, and to all those trying to understand the enigma of Saudi Arabia.
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1) The book is definitely written in an academic style. As an academic myself, I can appreciate that. But for a more casual reader, this fact might be somewhat off putting.
2) Perhaps this comment is a continuation of the first, but why must Arabic words be so heavily emphasized? Do so when there is no English word but come on, a phrase such as "... the head of the royal court (diwan), who was appointed as clerk (amin sir)." verges on showing off.
3) The first 7 chapters were written for a 2002 edition; the 2010 edition adds two new chapters. But it seems as if the author did nothing to revise the first chapters. For instance, the old Chapter 6 says about Bin Laden's blame for the 9-11 attacks that "... hard evidence remains at this point very elusive." Probably in 2002 this statement would have been acceptable. But for a book copyrighted in 2010, the statement is ludicrous. When updating to a new edition, checking everything is a good idea.
4) Chapters 7 and 8 show the author looking at very current events (ie, for Chapter 7 current in 2002 and for Chapter 8 current in 2008) and vastly overstating their importance. In particular, not every small London-based group and not every proclamation of the king will be crucially significant. Mentioning these without going into detail is a good idea, at least until the group or proclamation has proven to be important.
While I have mentioned 4 flaws, I still liked the book quite a lot, hence its high rating. If you are looking for a good history of Saudi Arabia from 1900 to 2000, this is a book to consider. It's a little weaker on the period before 1900 and after 2000.
I found the material on the 1930s especially illuminating, because it provides us with a picture of the Saud family, and to a degree a picture of Arabia, before the rest of the world came to appreciate the strategic significance of petroleum, and before the Second World War made all national boundaries something up for negotiation and renegotiation.
We're also treated to an illuminating dicussion of when marriages (and by extension polygamy) is, and when it isn't, a valuable tool for the forging of political alliances. This is an analytical take on a subject usually rushed through with cliches.