What happened in the Middle East's oil-rich powerhouse- while we weren't looking
Saudi Arabia is a country defined by paradox. It is a modern state driven by contemporary technology and possessed of vast oil deposits, yet its powerful religious establishment would have its customs and practices rolled back a thousand years to match those of the prophet Muhammad.
With Inside the Kingdom, journalist and bestselling author Robert Lacey has given us one of the most penetrating and insightful looks at Saudi Arabia ever produced. While living for years among the nation's princes and paupers, its clerics and progressives, Lacey endeavored to find out how the consequences of the 1970s oil boom produced a society at war with itself. Filled with stories that trace a path through the Persian Gulf War and the events of 9/11 to the oilmarket convulsions of today, Inside the Kingdom gives us a modern history of the Saudis in their own words, revealing a people attempting to reconcile life under religious law with the demands of a rapidly changing world. Their struggle will have powerful reverberations around the globe, and this rich work provides a penetrating look at a country no one can afford to ignore.
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.)