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The Kingdom [Englisch] [Gebundene Ausgabe]

Robert Lacey

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Die hilfreichsten Kundenrezensionen auf (beta) 4.6 von 5 Sternen  28 Rezensionen
29 von 30 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen A good backround to this fascinating and terrifying land 11. Juli 2004
Von Erica Bell - Veröffentlicht auf
If all your knowledge of Saudi Arabia comes from a couple of screenings of "Laurence of Arabia" and a nervous eyeful of screeming extremists blaring out of the front pages, this book is a must-read. From a Western point of view, the whole concept of Saudi is impossible madness, but Mr. Lacy very deftly untangles its subtlties in a vivid, sympathetic style that mercifully excludes both political correctness and zenophobia.
Arabia's rise from Ottoman backwater to fabulous wealth is an odyssey too weird for fiction. Mr. Lacy concentrates on the country as pawn of the Europeans in the 1800's and moves into the tummultous 20th century and the rise of the house of Sa'ud, their capitalization on world events, their fatal attraction to wahabbiism, and their government based on tribal loyalties and a system of patronage so labyrinthine it will make your head spin.
It's a heck of a read, and Mr. Lacy does it by immersing you in their world. By the time scientists from Standard Oil California appear poking around the eastern peninsula "searching for signs of the sea", it is they who seem alien. The book only needs an update to bring it up to speed with Saudi's frightening present.
16 von 16 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen At least a B+, if not an A- 10. Juli 2008
Von John P. Jones III - Veröffentlicht auf
At the beginning of Mr. Lacey's monumental work he relates a conversation he had with a Georgetown educated member of the House of Saud: "I have lived in the Kingdom over 30 years, yet if I was to put down on paper how my family and this country worked, I would be lucky if I got a B+ mark. You have spent four years with us. The best you can hope for is a C." Lacey clearly did his homework, as the large bibliography indicates. Moreover, he actually lived in the Kingdom, unlike so many "Saudi experts." And while there, he conducted numerous interviews with key individuals, who entrusted him with versions of historical reality not often seen in other works. He mastered his source materials, and wrote an immensely readable history of the Kingdom until the ascension of King Fahd to the throne in 1982.

A full 40% of the book relates to events prior to the actual proclamation of the Kingdom in 1932. This portion covers the ancient political alliance of the Al-Saud's with the conservative preacher, Abdul Wahab, and his family. Also, Ibrahim Pasha's 1819 destruction of Diriyah, the Saud's home village, for defying the sultan-caliph in Constantinople. But the main thrust of this section is the exile, and return of the Al Saud family in the late 1800's, culminating in the capture of the fort in Riyadh from the Al Rashed clan in January, 1902. Thereafter is a 25 year consolidation of power for the Al Saud's over most of "Al Jazeera," the peninsula. The first significant conflict was at Dilam, when Abdul Aziz only had enough ammunition for one mighty fusillade. After taking Al Hasa in 1913, he made a fateful alliance with the Ikhwan, "the Brotherhood," of fanatical conservatives who were indomitable in battle. This alliance was key to the conquest of the rest of what would become the Kingdom, including the ouster of the Hashemites from the Hijaz. Alliances are also broken, often after success, and at the end of the 20's, Abdul Aziz used some modern British weaponry to eliminate his former allies at Sabillah. Lacey says that the "big man" version of history is now passé, with the historical schools which emphasis social forces and the common man, yet he clearly credits the drive and energy of Abdul Aziz for accomplishing something never done before: the unification of most of the Arabian peninsula.

Not long after the Kingdom's formation, "black gold," the oil for which the country is now famous, was discovered in the Eastern province. The principals involved in the oil exploration are covered well in a couple of chapters, as is the impact of the subsequent wealth on what was one of the poorer countries of the world. Less well remembered, at least in the West, was the conflict between Nasser of Egypt, and the Al Sauds, with the former proclaiming that "To liberate all Jerusalem, the Arab people must first liberate Riyadh." The two sides supported the opposing parties in the Yemen Civil War in the early `60's, and only the intervention of the American Air Force prevented Egypt from bombing the Kingdom. Lacey also covered the weak, sorry rule of Abdul Aziz's first successor, Saud, and his eventual replacement with Faisal. The later was a true leader who tried to edge the Kingdom into modernization, while retaining traditional values, but eventually paid with his life for his efforts, assassinated in 1975 by a deranged nephew over the events associated with the introduction of television. The Kingdom's place in the larger world is also addressed, from inter-Arab conflicts, to the creation of the State of Israel, to the formation of OPEC. From the perspective of a quarter century, there is dissonance in Lacey assigning a full chapter's worth of importance to the movie "A Death of a Princess," an arms wheeler-dealer, Mr. Khashoggi, and the taking of the mosque in Mecca, in 1979, by the "expected Mahdi." It was only the later that had truly lasting importance, since the Al Saud's had to tact to the more conservative social side, thwarting social reforms.

Lacey tells his story well, and has a charming habit of illustrating points via "tales," identified as such, much like the Saudis themselves do. At the book's end, he wisely eschews predictions as to the future direction of the country. He does make the wise point: "Westerners assume that life in the Kingdom will, one day, be very much like life everywhere else. No Saudi will accept that assumption." (p517). The book contains some excellent historical pictures, as well as vital maps to further the reader's understanding.

Quibbles? He did make one prediction that turned out not to be true. He said that an Arab country would have the A-Bomb before the end of the 20th Century. And one of his pictures is labeled as a village in the Asir, but it is clearly the conical huts of the Tihama.

Oil and Islam. They are in the headlines literally everyday in the West, as the "wolf finally came," with gas prices soaring, and war without end continuing. Lacey's book is essential for understanding one of the most important countries of the world today, for "they" understand us far better than "we" understand them.
13 von 13 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Very informative explanation of a complex country. 17. März 1998
Von Jack Wallace, Jr. ( - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
I stumbled upon this book shortly after my return home from the Persian Gulf War and it answered all of the questions that naturally arose from living for an extended period in such a unique country. It is a must read for anyone who is going to Saudi Arabia or who will be dealing with subjects of the Kingdom. Saudi Arabia is indeed a kingdom in a sense that is long gone from our historical perspective. As one of the Royal Saudi Air Force officers told me recently, the country is the "private property" of the Saudi family. Reading this book will give you an appreciation of the skill and leadership of Abdul Aziz ibn Sa'ud that allowed him to consolidate power in this vast desert land. If you are among those who have seen the "Emerald City" while at LogBases Alpha, Bravo, or Echo (226th ASG, Hooah) you must buy this book.
10 von 10 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Well written and documented Historical Narrative 15. Juni 2005
Von Des - Veröffentlicht auf
Few academic books are composed and delivered in an engaging style. This book has accomplished that level of excellence. One criticism of this book is not enough information on the royal family-almost no books on Saudi Arabia will deliver that info. Nevertheless, the info on the royal family in his book is sufficient to boost more interest in the House of Saud. One thing is for sure: if you have a quest for History the book is a must read. However, the book is verboten in the kingdom.
29 von 35 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
3.0 von 5 Sternen Serious but dated, lacking a contrarian perspective 3. Juni 2003
Von Fazal Majid - Veröffentlicht auf
Robert Lacey's book is a well-researched book that gives valuable insights into the history of Saudi Arabia and the mindset of its ruling family. Unfortunately, it lacks critical distance and paints an overly flattering portrait of the House of Saud, and should be balanced by reading Said K. Aburish's "The Rise, Corruption and Coming Fall of the House of Saud".
My father worked with the USSR in the 70s and Saudi Arabia in the 80s, and he told me Saudi Arabia was the most stifling place he ever was in, even worse than communist Russia (this is not anti-muslim bigotry, by the way, I am one myself).
A lot has changed since this book was written, due to demographic pressure and the collapse of the oil-driven welfare state after Gulf War I, so this book should be used mostly as a reference for the period before 1980.
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