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Books about Saudi and Middle East History
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Foo_Fighters_Dave



Joined: 09 Dec 2016
Posts: 135

PostPosted: Sun Sep 24, 2017 11:06 am    Post subject: Books about Saudi and Middle East History Reply with quote

Hi,

Could anyone recommend any books about the history of Saudi Arabia or the Middle East?
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sicklyman



Joined: 02 Feb 2013
Posts: 899

PostPosted: Sun Sep 24, 2017 12:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

the best book by far that I've read about the moden ME history is Robert Fisk's Great War for Civilisation. It's brilliant.

My review here: http://arukiyomi.com/?p=4400

If you're wanting to go back a bit, you'd not do badly to pick up copies of both The Seven Pillars of Wisdom by Lawrence and Arabian Sands by Thesiger.
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Mikalina



Joined: 03 May 2011
Posts: 140
Location: Home (said in a Joe90 voice)

PostPosted: Sun Sep 24, 2017 2:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Totally agree with sicklyman re: Robert Fisk's book.

I found Robert Lacey's The Kingdom informative for the very beginnings of the Sa'ud dynasty and the development of the country. Stops in 1980 but definitely 'sets the scene'.
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ayatollah



Joined: 16 Jun 2017
Posts: 35

PostPosted: Sun Sep 24, 2017 2:49 pm    Post subject: Bob Fisk Reply with quote

OK. The book is a terrific insight into ME affairs, but Bob is renowned for making stuff up.

Quote:
http://honestreporting.com/independent-admits-robert-fisk-story-was-false/

https://www.democraticunderground.com/1002460712
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Mikalina



Joined: 03 May 2011
Posts: 140
Location: Home (said in a Joe90 voice)

PostPosted: Sun Sep 24, 2017 3:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

'Axes to grind' - one of my favourite idioms......
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1st Sgt Welsh



Joined: 13 Dec 2010
Posts: 901
Location: Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei

PostPosted: Mon Sep 25, 2017 3:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mikalina wrote:


I found Robert Lacey's The Kingdom informative for the very beginnings of the Sa'ud dynasty and the development of the country. Stops in 1980 but definitely 'sets the scene'.


Yep, it's great. Also really enjoyed Lawrence in Arabia by Scott Anderson.

https://www.amazon.com/Lawrence-Arabia-Deceit-Imperial-Making/dp/0307476413
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sicklyman



Joined: 02 Feb 2013
Posts: 899

PostPosted: Mon Sep 25, 2017 9:19 am    Post subject: Re: Bob Fisk Reply with quote

ayatollah wrote:
Bob is renowned for making stuff up.

Well, whether you like it or not, he's actually renowned for being one of the stellar reporters of the age. Hardly anyone is aware that he's made stuff up even if it is true.

In any case, non-fiction should be read with a critical eye, let alone a newspaper/correspondent's view of things.

Fisk's book spans 30 years and has over 1000 pages in it. If, let's say, a quarter of it was true, it would be worth a read. The bits that most chilled me are unquestionably true because the events themselves are well known.

Just because you can't ride in the passenger bay of an Apache helicopter doesn't mean everything Fisk writes is a lie. He's got an agenda, just like everyone else, but as you say, his writing is still "a terrific insight into ME affairs".
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Sheik Yerbuti



Joined: 02 Dec 2012
Posts: 103
Location: the promised land

PostPosted: Mon Sep 25, 2017 9:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Bin Ladens. If you can find on kindle quite the read. Mostly about the
patriarch of the clan who founded the family business and his odyssey from
Yemen to Arabia.
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Gulezar



Joined: 19 Jun 2007
Posts: 470

PostPosted: Mon Sep 25, 2017 2:21 pm    Post subject: Gertrude Bell: Queen of the Desert Reply with quote

https://www.amazon.com/Gertrude-Bell-Desert-Nations-American/dp/0374161623/ref=tmm_hrd_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

Gertrude Bell: Queen of the Desert, Shaper of Nations (First American Edition) Hardcover – April 17, 2007 by Georgina Howell

Ms. Bell's writings must have been studied for the screenplay for Alec Guinness' entrance into Damascus as Prince Faisal in Lawrence of Arabia.
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BajaLaJaula



Joined: 25 Jan 2007
Posts: 259
Location: No longer in fantasy land

PostPosted: Mon Sep 25, 2017 7:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

House of Saud - a bit outdated but still a good history of the Saud mafia and how they were able to cobble together what is now the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
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wailing_imam



Joined: 31 Mar 2006
Posts: 578
Location: Malaya

PostPosted: Wed Sep 27, 2017 8:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Fisk tome mentioned above is fantastic and comes in at second place on my list. However, there can only be one book in first place...

Arabian Sands by Wilfred Thesiger
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hash



Joined: 17 Dec 2014
Posts: 416
Location: Wadi Jinn

PostPosted: Thu Sep 28, 2017 8:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

For a deeper understanding of the Middle East, one will have to read beyond the journalistic/explorer type of narrative. Those mentioned so far are
good at relating what happened......WHY things happened has to be found elsewhere. The field, by the way, is enormous so it's difficult to be "comprehensive" without citing at least 20 books. I will cite two:

1- Any of the Bernard LEWIS books is worth reading. For beginners, I particularly recommend "WHAT WENT WRONG" - Western Impact and Middle Eastern Response (2002). The famed Princeton scholar (retired) presents his arguments in clear readable text for the general public.

2- "ORIENTALISM" (1978) by Edward SAID. (pronounced SA EED....stress on the 2nd syllable....means "happy" in Arabic).
A foundational text for any serious study of the Middle East. Also at the center of the "Culture Wars" still raging in academia. The Columbia U. professor
(d. 2003) claimed Western intellectuals have, for centuries, completely misrepresented the Middle East in an effort to dominate the area. Makes for sometimes tedious reading and assumes a certain level of background in western literary studies, but indispensable for a solid understanding of the region.

It's interesting to note that Lewis/Said were bitter academic rivals. They can both be seen extensively on youtube.


,
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nomad soul



Joined: 31 Jan 2010
Posts: 11040
Location: The real world

PostPosted: Thu Sep 28, 2017 8:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Foo_Fighters_Dave wrote:
Could anyone recommend any books about the history of Saudi Arabia or the Middle East?

For insight into Aramco's historical impact on KSA, check out Saudi Aramco's history & its development of TEFL.

That said, the history of KSA and the Mid East is quite broad. What specifically about KSA or the region are you most interested in learning about?
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AGoodStory



Joined: 26 Feb 2010
Posts: 738

PostPosted: Thu Sep 28, 2017 10:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'll second the recommendation of Thesiger's Arabian Sands, as well as Great War for Civilisation by the more controversial Robert Fisk. Fisk is a talented writer, and one who doesn't hesitate to communicate his own point of view. Both are well worth reading.

.
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sicklyman



Joined: 02 Feb 2013
Posts: 899

PostPosted: Sun Oct 01, 2017 9:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

it's a fairly dry read but you could also try A Line in the Sand for an understanding of the impact of western imperialism dividing up the Middle East into nations that simply didn't work out. Not a page turner though.
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