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The Rise, Corruption and Coming Fall of the House of Saud [Paperback]

Said K. Aburish
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
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Book Description

15 Aug 2005
The House of Saud can no longer bribe its people and Arab neighbours into silence. Throughout the Middle East, Islamic movements deplore the Saudi royal family's waste of the country's wealth on private expenditure and costly Western armaments. They are also opposed to the immorality of a dynasty whose men have purchased women in bulk and plundered the country's oil revenues in pursuit of pleasure and who cling to retrograde policies such as expelling, imprisoning and executing dissenters. The developed countries of the West, in particular the USA, are committed to seeing on the Saudi Arabian throne a king who will keep the oil flowing at the right price. Yet the future of the country is likely to see the birth of a militant, vengeful Islamic regime and a huge increase in the price of oil, possibly leading to a world depression and even greater conflict between the West and the Islamic world.
--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC; New Ed edition (15 Aug 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0747578745
  • ISBN-13: 978-0747578741
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 12.8 x 2.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 375,293 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Said K. Aburish is a journalist and the author of several works of non-fiction including two critically acclaimed biographies; Saddam Hussein: The Politics of Revenge and Arafat: From Defender to Dictator. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Detailed history of the House of Saud 26 April 2006
Firstly a quick warning, this book was written in 1994 and re-printed in 2005, with only a minor preface detailing the events of the last decade. This book lacks any analysis of the W Bush administrations policies in the Middle East or of the Clinton administrations relations with the House of Saud. An additional chapter detailing the House of Sauds reaction and involvement in the second Iraq war would have been welcome. That said this book is still relevant, given the importance of Saudi Arabia and the House of Saud as the worlds largest exporter of crude oil.

I have read a great deal about the Middle East post-1919 having studied it at University. A lot of books on this subject are superficial, written from a western perspective. This book really gives a detailed insight into the House of Saud, its links with the US and its oil and business dealings. The tone of this book is decidedly against the ruling dynasty but the criticisms are always well supported, which makes the content of this book even more alarming. Aburish's prediction has not yet come about but for a history of the kingdom this is certainly well worth a read.
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38 of 42 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
This is an excellent account of the history of the Saudi royal family. The book begins by blowing away the myths surrounding the first House Of Saud monarch, Ibn Saud, who is invariably described by Middle East 'experts' as the unifier of the tribes of Arabia and the man who brought them out of the dark ages and into the Twentieth Century. Aburish completely deconstructs this widely held view and shows how Ibn Saud was basically used by the British as a bargain basement monarch to act as a front man for their oil companies. He then goes on to show how this role was taken over from the British by the Americans after WWII and how the Americans refused to become involved in Saudi Arabia's internal affairs in a responsible way (i.e. influencing the royals to build schools, hospitals etc) as the British had done in their colonies. Instead they pandered to the royal family's every whim, encouraging the House Of Saud to see the countries wealth as their own personal possession. This led to widespread corruption and both social and political injustice on a massive scale. Aburish then goes on to document the misdeeds of each one of the kings and their most wayward relations (of whom there are many), revealing the House Of Saud as an inherently immoral institution. He also goes into some detail of their effects on the wider Arab world, their opposition to moves towards democracy in the Gulf States and Yemen and their control of Arab press in most other Arab countries, most importantly the pan-Arab press centred in Beirut. He goes on to show the similarities between the House Of Saud's reign and the Reza Shah's in Iran - we all know what happened there. Despite the fact that this book was written in 1994, the author's arguments are so persuasively made and so well backed up with excellent research that as you finish it you can't help but agree that it is just a matter of time before the Saudi monarchy falls. And you will certainly agree that that is no bad thing either.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A barbaric regime empowered by western leaders 24 Sep 2004
By Roshan
As America is in the midst of 'liberating' Iraq, perhaps one should consider this book.
It details how the House of Saud were a barbaric family on the verge of being terminated forever. They were viewed as barbaric by other ruling classes in the Arabian peninsula. However the ruling classes in Britain obviously felt differently and decided to give these barbarians money and arms to make them rulers of 'Saudi' Arabia. Once the British were out of the scene, the Americans stepped in allowing the House of Saud to consolidate their power. Why did they do this? Oil and strategic power. In other words the House of Saud were/are a puppet government. Who are the losers? The Arabian people who must put up with corruption and a backward and restrictive religion called Wahhabism. So much for western governments liberating oppressed people ruled by barbaric regimes!
I am sure a similar picture is true of many other countries in the Middle East.
This book has been made more relevant than ever by the recent invasion of Iraq. Once the book has been read, the reader will be in no doubt of the real motives of America in the Middle East and will be saddened by the fact that in the western world we have not really moved on since the 1920's with regards to foreign policy(in my opinion).
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating insight 8 Mar 2004
By A Customer
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
An aquaintance recommended me this book. When I read the book, I was stunned to learn some of the background of the Saudi Royal Family. The most fascinating bit for me was a very different and if I may so, a much more comprehensive version of the truth to the backdrop to the first Gulf War. Truth which left me rather shocked and angry (with my own British Government). The Nasser era of Arab Nationalism is also covered.
I would recommend this book for its insiders insight into Arab politics in General.
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars An angry work 13 Dec 2006
By Mike
It is hard to read this book and not get some sense that Aburish is both angry and passionate in his views on the Saudi regime. At the time of writing, it was becoming increasingly popular to 'foretell' the collapse of the regime in Riyadh. However, Aburish's forecasts have not come true, at least not yet.

This is not a badly-written book. Aburish is indeed capable of painting a highly vivid and entertaining picture. Anyone interested in Saudi Arabia will enjoy the book. However, its argument and the emotion with which it is delivered make it a less than reliable source on the Saudi regime. At times it borders on an intellectual Michael Moore-ish attack on a fundamentalist government. It also fails to adequately comprehend the lessons of history regarding the Saudi regime's survival. The Al-Saud are far more adept at meeting challenges to their rule than Aburish gives them credit for. This has been recently proved by their largely successful apprehending of many militants around the kingdom.

This not to say that his criticisms of their rule are wrong. The Saudi regime is guilty of many, if not all, of the horrific things that Aburish charges them with. The problem is that the student of Gulf politics, or the lay reader on the subject, cannot rely on this subjective and angry work.

Nevertheless, there is something to be said for an entertaining and illuminating read on any subject. So if you're going to read this...enjoy.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Very interesting if you work in the middle east
Excellent book so far very interesting if you live or work in the middle east, although i have only read a quarter of it so far.
Published 12 months ago by D P BEAVAN
3.0 out of 5 stars a passionate voice
This is a detailled and more than informative report on the characteristics and subversive actions of the House of Saud. Read more
Published on 18 Mar 2011 by D. E. Condon
4.0 out of 5 stars Intriguing but too bitter
The book details the rise of the family of Saud and in effect the creation and development of Saudi Arabia during the 20th century. Read more
Published on 15 Aug 2010 by Darren Simons
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read to understand better the middle east
Obviously, the author has strong views of the rulers of Saudi Arabia but I still find this read astonishing and it explains (whether right or wrong) why some people may think like... Read more
Published on 19 Aug 2008 by Amazon Customer
1.0 out of 5 stars '...awe to grind'
This book is a poorly written and fails to keep the reader interested. Published in 1994, just about every prediction Arburish made has not come to pass. Read more
Published on 17 Aug 2007 by Everard Edoo
4.0 out of 5 stars A good read but...
The auther sometimes makes strong statements without backing them up with factual , historical evidence to support his views. This book is not neutral - the author has taken sides. Read more
Published on 9 Aug 2005 by Sahara, T
5.0 out of 5 stars Dictatorship
This book was brilliant, in exposing the corruption in that land, and how western governments upto 2001, were so compliant in allowing that corruption, to continue in quite a... Read more
Published on 18 Feb 2005
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