Academic journal article The Middle East Journal

Saudi Arabia and the United States: Birth of a Security Partnership

Academic journal article The Middle East Journal

Saudi Arabia and the United States: Birth of a Security Partnership

Article excerpt

Saudi Arabia and the United States: Birth of a Security Partnership, by Parker T. Hart. ADST-DACOR Diplomats and Diplomacy Seties. Bloomington and Indianapolis, IN: Indiana University Press, 1998. xxiii + 253 pages. Notes to p. 269. Bibl. to p. 272. Index to p.283. $39. History, a noted historian is claimed to have said, is just one darned thing after another, or words to that effect. Whether he actually said so or not, it is hard to imagine any professional American Foreign Service Officer with many years of distinguished service not subscribing to that point of view. Ambassador Parker Hart's memoir of his many years of dealing with Saudi Arabia amply illustrates the point. During the years he served there, many seminal events occurred that marked the early development of the special relationship that the United States and Saudi Arabia have enjoyed over the past seven decades. The book, which focuses primarily on mutual security cooperation, essentially covers the years 1942 to 1965. During that period, Hart served three tours of duty in the Kingdom, a noteworthy accomplishment in itself. He opened the US Consulate in Dhahran in 1944, returned there as Consul General, 1949-50, and served as US Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, 1961-65.

The strength of the book lies in Hart's ability to convey the unfolding of events in a very real and personal manner without in any way sacrificing the author's high standards of objectivity and meticulous attention to factual detail. History is much more than facts and dates. Many of the events covered in the book have been dealt with elsewhere. What few other books have done so well, however, is to breathe life into the factual record. One can almost experience the fierce desert heat when reading of Hart's treks across the searing sands, and can more fully appreciate thegreatness of men such as King Abd al-Aziz and King Faysal as Hart candidly, yet intimately, recounts audiences with them. The rich narration and attention to detail with which "Pete" Hart, as he was affectionately known to his friends, has written his personal observations allow the reader to share what it was like, not just to observe, but to participate in the making of history. …

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