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Inside the Kingdom: Kings, Clerics, Modernists, Terrorists, and the Struggle for Saudi Arabia Paperback – Bargain Price, October 5, 2010
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Lacey (The Kingdom) delves into the paradoxes in Saudi society—where women are forbidden to drive but are more likely to attend universities than men—and why this nation yielded most of the terrorist team on September 11, Osama bin Laden and one of the largest group of foreign fighters sent to Guantánamo from Afghanistan. Lacey's conversational tone and anecdotal approach to storytelling and analysis gives us a vivid portrait of personal and political life in Saudi Arabia's public and personal spheres, the traditions that govern everyday life, the country's journey from relative liberalism on the tide of extreme oil wealth in the 1980s to a resurgence of traditionalism. Lacey shows us a land where the governing dynasty gives rehabilitated Guantánamo returnees an $18,000 stipend toward their marriage dowry, and 15 young girls died in a schoolhouse fire in 2002 because they were not properly veiled, and religious police forbade them to escape and prevented firefighters from entering the burning building. Lacey's eye for sweeping trends and the telling detail combined with the depth, breadth and evenhandedness of his research makes for an indispensable guide. (Oct.)
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.
“Richer, more considered and more damning than the first…What distinguishes Mr Lacey’s account is his use of Saudi voices—many of them, even in this most reticent of cultures, on the record—to anatomise a deeply rooted culture of intolerance. …The voices of the victims are especially poignant. … He portrays the misery and isolation of Saudi women …Lacey conveys the simple, homely character of the current ruler, King Abdullah….. Compelling” - The Economist
"A book of startling insights.” - Financial Times
"The real triumph of this book ... is the way it peels away the layers of mystery that shroud a civil society of which we have almost no knowledge.... Lacey goes in on the ground level, and to say that this book is journalistic is not a criticism, for in parts it is also rigorously analytical. But his background as a reporter allows him to bring to life the remarkable material he has amassed by living there for the past three years" - The Times
"Robert Lacey, a great reporter and stylish writer, has given us a valuable, insightful and provocative look into one of the world's most powerful and still mysterious societies?the kingdom of Saudi Arabia. It's all here: Islam, the family tree, a sea of oil and money to match, palace intrigue, and the place of Osama Bin Laden. This is high drama and an epic tale. Dazzling on every level" - Tom Brokaw
“[An] important, welcome and most timely book." - Washington Times
"Robert Lacey explains one of the world's most complicated governments and societies with sweeping, beautiful writing, intellectual brilliance and unparalleled insight. Inside the Kingdom is the most penetrating and substantial book on the Saudi state and society since September 11. Once again Lacey has proved that no outsider understands Saudi Arabia better than himself. This is a thoughtful masterpiece about a country that lies at the heart of the Muslim world." - Ahmed Rashid, author of Taliban and Descent into Chaos
"Lacey does a good job of encapsulating Saudi domestic history over the past 30 years...Inside the Kingdom" tells an important story...Few other writers are as well-positioned as Lacey to give a prognosis. He has been watching the kingdom for 30 tumultuous years, and has become a trusted source" - Washington Post
"Gripping...With its account of how and why the country became a laboratory of international jihad, [Inside the Kingdom is] an even more urgent read than its predecessor.... It is those outside Saudi Arabia, though, who most need to read this page-turning account of a country with a power to affect all of us, but which the rest of the world seems reluctant to know. Those who wish to dismiss it as a rogue nation protected by its wealth should make sure they're blaming the right people for." - The Independent
“Beautifully written and thought-provoking … Lacey has a very good feel for the Anglo-Saxon aetheling structure of the ramified ruling dynasty, whereby the most competent, rather than the most senior, prince generally gets to the top…. Lacey is good on the pretensions of the clergy, who have their own cane-wielding religious police.…Lacey is also informative about why the US-Saudi relationship is not so special any longer.. A highly accomplished book which should go into the bags of anyone who has to travel to the kingdom.” - Literary Review
"Robert Lacey has returned to the Kingdom to provide an insightful and intimate portrait of a country?and a family?chained to tradition and challenged by the remorseless march of modernity. Lacey provides many startling and often delicious details that make this history fresh, surprising, and essential." - Lawrence Wright, author of The Looming Tower
“Provide[s] a different perspective…An insider’s view…What it does have is people: the women who saw female GIs driving trucks and decided to give driving a try, too (they were arrested); victims of injustice and millionaires; dissidents and the princes who jail them.” - Telegraph (UK)
" Lacey's conversational tone and anecdotal approach to storytelling and analysis gives us a vivid portrait of personal and political life in Saudi Arabia's public and personal spheres...Lacey's eye for sweeping trends and the telling detail combined with the depth, breadth and evenhandedness of his research makes for an indispensable guide." - Publishers Weekly
" A lucid exploration of profound divisions in Saudi society... A culturally sensitive portrayal of a troubled-and potentially troublesome-region. " - Kirkus --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
The truth is, there are much better books on the topics Lacey covers, so he markets this book as being about Saudi Arabia, rather than what it really is about: just another book on Islamic fundamentalist terrorism - with OBL at the center. To validate this “twist” he includes some history on Saudi Arabia and the royal family, as well as a brief highlight on the seizure of the Grand Mosque. But other than that, skip this book and read Ghost Wars and The Looming Tower. Lacey writes like a journalist here, focusing on a few human sources, generally taking their word for it, and not doing enough work to fill the gaps with substance between the anecdotes. No discussion on the economics, foreign relations, or what it’s like for the average Saudi.
Robert A. Hall
Author: "The Coming Collapse of the American Republic."
Whilst Lacey has included some small amount of social commentary, ie a brief discussion of same sex lesbian relationships, rape, the social repression of Saudi society the book is very much in the Great Man school of history so dont buy this book if your looking for a man on the street view of Saudi society. Otherwise it is excellent.
I dont know if Lacey will live long enough to produce a trilogy but it is also worth mentioning that this book will be interesting to pick up in 20 years to see if some of the factors Lacey identifies have come to fruition. For example he talks about King Abdullah taking a strategic decision to seek other allies to the United States in 2004 in the wake of the invasion of Iraq. It will be interesting to see how this develops over the decades ahead and how prescient Lacey has been on this score and others.
You won't find a more comprehensive book on Saudi Arabia from the beginning to the present.
The Saud's descend from Muhammad bin Saud who in the mid 18th century aligned with Muhammad al-Wahhab to create a religious-warrior nexus which provided the movement considerable impetus in conquering substantial territories beyond its traditional settlement in Riyadh. It wasn't until the ascendence of Ibn Saud that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was formed. A crucial alignment with the British and the discovery of oil ensured that the Kingdom had a good foundation to operate off.
The book itself has two sections largely due to the fact that much of it seems to be revised, and that seems to be the fundamental flaw in the narrative. The period pre-9/11 is covered beautifully- the siege of Mecca which gave the religious wing an upper hand, the Shia Intifada in the East, the alignments in the Gulf war. Its only 9/11 and post 9/11 that the author does not seem to be able to control what needs to be in the book and the latter quarter of the book reads like a hagiography of King Abdullah.
Saudi Arabia is anachronistic in its social and democratic credentials- loads of money, but limited freedom to protest and significant restrictions on women (there are some interesting poignant anecdotes to back these in the book), what the book achieves is shed light on how the canny House of Saud has managed to balance the powers and yet manage the contradictions of modernity and traditional values. This is a must read for anyone seeking to understand the Kingdom
Most Recent Customer Reviews
At times, though, the reference to so many different characters makes it hard to digest.Read more