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On Saudi Arabia : its people, past, religion, fault lines-- and future
House, Karen Elliott
Adult Nonfiction DS215 .H68 2012

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From Publishers' Weekly:

Famed for their "passivity" and "unquestioning acceptance of rules laid down by elders" as well as their fundamentalist, uncompromising outlook, the Saudis are intensely proud, but by and large, have no say in the functioning of their country. The internal contradictions of a medieval theocracy in thrall to modern-day petrocapitalism give Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist House ample material as she interviews princes and terrorists, millionaire playboys and destitute widows, muftis and engineers. Being a foreign woman, she has entree into both male and female spheres, and the chapter on women is among the most illuminating; though the "overwhelming majority of women are totally subjugated by religion, tradition, and family," "activist women... can be found scattered across Saudi society." Chapters on disenfranchised youth, the sclerotic education system, the opaque succession procedures of the ruling dynasty, and the kingdom's foreign policy each suggest ways in which the country's potential is being stymied by fear of change, and identify points of conflict that could presage wider unrest. While cogently written, this slim volume is also repetitive and superficial. The same details recur throughout, and the reader emerges with only a basic understanding of the all-important relationship between the religious and political authorities, or of the mechanics of an economy in which 90% of private-sector workers are foreigners. Agent: Janklow & Nesbit. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

From Library Journal:

After spending roughly 30 years as a journalist in Saudi Arabia, House sets out here to examine its history and explain its political and social climate. This well-written exploration uncovers many of the hushed feelings and beliefs of Saudis from various walks of life. Outlining the rise to power of the House of Saud (Al Saud) and examining the ongoing political corruption under the guise of religious adherence, House reveals the hypocrisy in the royal family's policies. She believes that the Al Saud's attempts at governing through a balancing act of avoidance and appeasement has caused it to lose legitimacy. With 60 percent of the population under 20 years of age, high unemployment, religious divisions, a lack of economic diversity, and increased exposure to other ways of life via television and the Internet, House speculates that Saudi Arabia's people will demand a drastic change in the policies of the royal family or else the people will forces changes on the royal family. VERDICT This work is well suited for anyone with a serious interest in Middle East studies or the region's domestic and international affairs. It is an easy read likely to encourage discussion and debate.-Brenna Smeall, ReferenceUSA, Papillion, NE (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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