The complex story of what's been happening within Saudi Arabia – while the West wasn't looking
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 Muhammed 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. It is a story of oil money that opened the door to Western ways, and produced a conservative backlash with effects that are still being felt today. It is a story of kings and princes who worried more about keeping power than the dangerous consequences of empowering radical clerics. It is a story of men who challenged orthodoxy and risked prison or death in the name of furthering open society, and of women who defied laws saying they should not write, drive, or play sports. And, at its heart, it is a story of a people attempting to reconcile the religious separatism of the past and the rapidly changing world with which they are increasingly intertwined. Their success – or failure – will have powerful reverberations in their own country, and across the globe.Author Profile
Robert Lacey is a British journalist and the author of the bestselling books Majesty
and Ford: The Men and the Machine
, among others. In 1979, he moved with his family to Saudi Arabia for eighteen months to research his book, The Kingdom
, an eye-opening and penetrating study of that country’s complex and often paradoxical culture. For the past three years he has split his time between Saudi Arabia and London, gathering material for this book.Reviews
Beautifully written and thought-provoking … Robert Lacey has written a highly accomplished book which should go into the bags of anyone who has to travel to the kingdom,Compelling ... [I] know of no book that captures so convincingly the intimate connection between the kingdom and the rise of al-Qaeda and its jihadist ideology…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,Knowing very little about Saudi Arabia before I opened this remarkable book, I found myself whirled from the first page into the compelling human drama of this mysterious society whose conflicts have wreaked such a devastating impact on the West. Robert Lacey is one of our foremost contemporary historians, and with Inside the Kingdom he proves himself a master story-teller as well.,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,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,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. It’s high drama and an epic tale.,Incisive ... 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