Inside the Kingdom by Robert Lacey #BookReview
Saudi Arabia is a country defined by paradox: it sits atop some of the richest oil deposits in the world, and yet the country’s roiling disaffection produced sixteen of the nineteen 9/11 hijackers. It is a modern state, driven by contemporary technology, and yet its powerful religious establishment would have its customs and practices rolled back to match those of the Prophet Muhammad over a thousand years ago. In a world where events in the Middle East continue to have geopolitical consequences far beyond the region’s boundaries, an understanding of this complex nation is essential.
With Inside the Kingdom, British journalist and bestselling author Robert Lacey has given us one of the most penetrating and insightful looks at Saudi Arabia ever produced. More than twenty years after he first moved to the country to write about the Saudis at the end of the oil boom, Lacey has returned to find out how the consequences of the boom produced a society at war with itself.
Filled with stories told by a broad range of Saudis, from high princes and ambassadors to men and women on the street, Inside the Kingdom is in many ways the story of the Saudis in their own words.
The extremely interesting book about the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia caught my eye. Inside the Kingdom by Robert Lacey dives into the heart of the Saudi life from 1979 up to 2009. His previous book, The Kingdom tell the story of Saudis before that. I have to admit it wasn’t all that I expected.
A very well written account of life in the Kingdom. As good as it can be perceived by a westerner. But by living there for many years, Lacey finds interesting ways of telling the story. Filled with details and quotes from Saudis themselves, we learn a great deal of the way they view politics and the outside world.
Funny at times, and deadly serious some other times, the book presents a very real encounter with the life in the heart of the Middle East. It shows the great power of the Islamic Scholars and the strength the Saudi family has. No wonder they made and kept the country under their rule.
The political system and written and unwritten rules are overwhelming at times, for a western mind, but after a while, you understand how the Saudi psyche actually functions. Even if some wish and long for modernity it is very hard to acquire and actually sustain in the whole picture.
Interesting ways of showing how the US-Saudi Arabia relationship worked for many decades and how interdependent they are. It’s amazing to see how the kings negotiate with their advisors in order to ensure the implementation of their plans.
The books a great deal of info on the way the Saudi society reacted and shifted after 9/11. And the way they tried to understand where they may have been wrong. A lot of interesting details on the early life of Bin Laden and how he got to the top of the most wanted list.
You can see the book shows a huge endeavour to present life in the Kingdom objectively and with as much detail as possible while keeping the conservatives happy, and not denigrate anyone. A truly historical gem for anyone interested in the recent history of the US friend in the region.