The Burden of Saudi Arabia
At the Drop of a Veil: The True Story of an American Woman's Years in a Saudi Arabian Harem, by Marianne Alireza. Costa Mesa, CA: Blind Owl Press, an imprint of Mazda Publishers, 2002 (first published by Houghton Mifflin Co., 1971). xii + 275 pages. Gloss. $15.
L'Arabie Saoudite En Question: Du wahhabisme a Bin Laden, aux origines de la tourmente, by Antoine Basbous. Paris: Perrin, 2002. 186 pages. EU 18.
From Arab Nationalism to OPEC: Eisenhower, King Sa'ud, and the Making of U.S.Saudi Relations, by Nathan J. Citino. Bloomington and Indianapolis, IN: Indiana University Press, 2002. xi + 165 pages. Abbrevs. to 167. Notes to p. 214. Bibl. to p. 229. Index to p. 245. $39.95.
Saudi Arabia Enters the Twenty-First Century: The Political, Foreign Policy, Economic, and Energy Dimensions, by Anthony H. Cordesman. Westport, CT and London, UK: Praeger (published in cooperation with the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Washington, DC), 2003. xxii + 559 pages. Bibl. to p. 570. Tables. Charts. Maps. Index top. 588. $115.
Hatred's Kingdom: How Saudi Arabia Supports the New Global Terrorism, by Dore Gold. Washington, DC: Regnery Publishing, Inc., 2003. x + 228 pages. Appendix to p. 251. Notes to p. 284. Gloss, to p. 288. Acknowledgments to p. 291. Index to p. 309. $27.95.
Arabie Saoudite: La Menace, by Stephane Marchand. Paris: Fayard, 2003. 400 pages. Annexes to p. 403. EU 22.
The Wells of Ibn Sa'ud, by D. Van Der Meulen. London and New York: Kegan Paul International, 2000. ix + 258 pages. Gloss, to p. 264. Index to p. 270. $127.50.
Saudi Arabia and the Illusion of Security, by J. E. Peterson. Adelphi Paper 348. The International Institute for Strategic Studies. London, UK: Oxford University Press (for the IISS), 2002. 83 pages. Notes to p. 103. $24.95.
Ibn Sa'oud of Arabia, by Ameen Rihani. London, UK, New York, and Bahrain: Kegan Paul, 2002. xvii + 359 pages. Genealogical tables. Maps. Photos. Index to p. 370. $ 127.50.
Al-Sa'udi [The Saudi], by Hani Ahmad Zaki Yamani. Beirut and London, UK: Dar Al Saqi, 1999. 199 pages. Index to p. 200. [Arabic translation of To Be a Saudi, first published in London: Janus Publishing Company, 1997].
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is, to say the least, on the dockets for many in the United States. From angry officials to a bewildered and weary population, from ill-informed media personalities to biased think tank analysts and an assortment of instant experts who have mushroomed in the aftermath of the tragic attacks of September 11, 2001, everyone has reached more or less the verdict that Saudi Arabia is guilty on counts: of religious fundamentalism and intolerance, of abetting terrorists and, worst of all, of generating and spreading anti-Americanism. Can, or for that matter does Riyadh deserve to be, exonerated? Less sanguine "Saudiologues" are pondering whether the Al Saud ruling family can survive this onslaught. They are also pondering whether Unitarian (Wahhabi) religious leaders will finally address specific indictments - ranging from ending their alleged support of terrorists, whose only objective is to incite violence on a mass murder scale, to introducing urgently needed reforms in the education system - and whether the few existing institutions throughout the Kingdom may survive. Indeed, even among academics, it is open season on everything Saudi.
The ten volumes under review are rich in information and analysis. They all clarify specific issues, elucidate obscure points, raise immensely critical questions, and offer the reader with an opportunity to think critically about Saudi Arabia - its government, leading religious and secular officials and, ultimately, its proud and blessed people. When read separately, these analyses (or at least portions thereof), can easily lead to a moral cartography that positions outsiders (in this case, the Saudis) in the realm …