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Vision or Mirage: Saudi Arabia at the Crossroads
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Description for Vision or Mirage: Saudi Arabia at the Crossroads
'Clear-eyed and illuminating.’ Henry Kissinger, former Secretary of State and National Security Advisor 'A rich, superbly researched, balanced history of the modern Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.' General David Petraeus, former Commander U.S. Central Command and Director of the Central Intelligence Agency ‘Destined to be the best single volume on the Kingdom.’ Ambassador Chas Freeman, former U.S. Ambassador to Saudi Arabia and Assistant Secretary of Defense 'Should be prescribed reading for a new generation of political leaders.' Sir Richard Dearlove, former Chief of H.M. Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) and Master of Pembroke College, ... Read moreCambridge. Something extraordinary is happening in Saudi Arabia. A traditional, tribal society once known for its lack of tolerance is rapidly implementing significant economic and social reforms. An army of foreign consultants is rewriting the social contract, King Salman has cracked down hard on corruption, and his dynamic though inexperienced son, the Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, is promoting a more tolerant Islam. But is all this a new vision for Saudi Arabia or merely a mirage likely to dissolve into Iranian-style revolution? David Rundell - one of America’s foremost experts on Saudi Arabia - explains how the country has been stable for so long, why it is less so today, and what is most likely to happen in the future. The book is based on the author's close contacts and intimate knowledge of the country where he spent 15 years living and working as a diplomat. Vision or Mirage demystifies one of the most powerful, but least understood, states in the Middle East and is essential reading for anyone interested in the power dynamics and politics of the Arab World. Show Less
Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
About David Rundell
Place of Publication
London, United Kingdom
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David Rundell studied Arabic at Oxford and served as an American diplomat for thirty years in Washington, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia and the United Arab Emirates. Over those three decades he spent fifteen years in the kingdom working at the Embassy in Riyadh as well as the Consulates in Jeddah and Dhahran. His assignments in Saudi Arabia included the ... Read moreChief of Mission, Charge d’Affaires, Deputy Chief of Mission, Political Counselor, Economic Counselor, Commercial Counselor and Commercial Attaché. He has won numerous awards for his analytical reporting, and participated in Operation Desert Storm, Saudi accession to the World Trade Organization and the defeat of the al-Qaeda terror campaign in Saudi Arabia. Show Less
Reviews for Vision or Mirage: Saudi Arabia at the Crossroads
A book of staggering breadth and depth.
The Wall Street Journal
Rundell covers the kingdom from top to bottom with vast wisdom, depth and understanding … It provides a superb overview of the kingdom’s political, economic and social landscape, but it goes well beyond that. Rundell explains, clearly and concisely, the special dynamics that drive the kingdom and ... Read morerender it so alien from our own society ... I wish that every United States diplomat, military officer and journalist would read this book before deploying there. I wish that every member of Congress would read it before voting on any measure related to Saudi Arabia. I wish every American pondering the frictions of our long relationship with the Saudis would read it simply to understand.
New York Times Book Review
At once modern and theocratic, reserved and assertive—Saudi Arabia’s paradoxes defy easy comprehension. For those seeking to understand the Kingdom and its role in the world, longtime observer David Rundell has distilled his experience into a clear-eyed and illuminating explanation.
Henry A. Kissinger ‘Excellent… analytically rigorous… exceptional…’
[T]he author hits all the necessary benchmarks in his assessment of the Kingdom’s development. The book must also be regarded as a great accomplishment in the study of the Kingdom and its new leadership.
Middle East Journal
Vision or Mirage: Saudi Arabia at the Crossroads is a book that will prove incredibly illuminating to the average Westerner, who probably only thinks of sexism, theocracy and oil when he thinks about Saudi Arabia. Rundell uses history, theology, politics, economics and sociology to explain the current complexities and challenges of the Arabian Peninsula’s most dominant nation.
Russell A Whitestone, Eurasia Review Vision or Mirage is destined to be the best single volume on the Kingdom. It will be a long time, if ever, before it is bettered.
Chas Freeman, Former U.S Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Assistant Secretary of Defense, President of the Middle East Policy Council Saudi Arabia has always been difficult for outsiders to understand, but it will be much less so now thanks to David Rundell. With insightful analysis of the roles of the ruling family, the tribal structure, the merchant class and the religious leadership, he forges all the pieces into a coherent whole that will enlighten specialists and novices alike.
Thomas W. Lippman, author of Saudi Arabia on the Edge A rich, superbly researched, balanced history of the modern Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. David Rundell was one of the State Department’s pre-eminent authorities on Saudi Arabia and the Arab world, one on whom those of us working in the region depended heavily, and this history reflects his decades of experience in the region, his eye for nuance and detail, his deep understanding of the culture and relationships in the kingdom, and his exceptional ability to distill and present all of that brilliantly.
General David Petraeus, US Army (Ret.), former Commander of the US Central Command and the Coalition Forces in Afghanistan, and former Director of the CIA This is a rare and important work on Saudi Arabia. Any diplomat, military official, policy maker or businessperson whose portfolio touches the kingdom will make far better decisions for having read it. I had the pleasure of working with Diplomat David Rundell during my service in the KSA. He provided sage advice and observations then, just as he will do for you in this splendid and useful book.
Ambassador James Oberwetter, Former U.S. Ambassador to Saudi Arabia David Rundell is America’s most knowledgeable diplomat on Saudi Arabia. This book, Vision or Mirage, is a deeply learned and nuanced account of the kingdom’s history, politics and economics. Without illusions or an ideological axe to grind, Rundell offers acute observations about the strengths and weaknesses of the country, based on nearly two decades of having lived and served in Saudi Arabia. He brings the country’s remarkable story up to the present and explains the important transformations taking place under King Salman and his son crown prince Muhammad (MBS) and what is at stake in their success or failure. You will not find a better book on the kingdom.
Bernard Haykel, Professor of Near East Studies, Princeton University; Co-Author Saudi Arabia in Transition The author of this book is "pro-Saudi", and at the same time he is entirely objective. He reconciles direct opposites not by fudging the differences, but by offering us his uniquely deep knowledge of a country and a state that remain poorly documented. This is a very valuable book.
Edward Luttwak, , Senior Associate at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Washington D.C Whenever I landed in Jeddah or Riyadh and wanted to discover what was really going on, the ‘man-in-the-sand’ whose expertise I always sought out first was David Rundell, the Quiet American who had the ‘ inside scoop’ on the politics, the business and, above all, the people of the ever-challenging Kingdom — the ‘Rundell Rumble’. Dave was always just back from some oasis or tribe or border territory where secret things were happening, or heading for the desert to pow-wow with the king. So pow-wow now with Dave as his brilliant book generously discloses a lifetime of wisdom and insights that take the reader inside one of the world’s most enigmatic and crucially important of lands. Saudi Arabia? It’s all in here . . . Whenever I landed in Jeddah or Riyadh and wanted to discover what was really going on, the ‘man-in-the-sand’ whose expertise I always sought out first was David Rundell, the Quiet American who had the ‘ inside scoop’ on the politics, the business and, above all, the people of the ever-challenging Kingdom — the ‘Rundell Rumble’. Dave was always just back from some oasis or tribe or border territory where secret things were happening, or heading for the desert to pow-wow with the king. So pow-wow now with Dave as his brilliant book generously discloses a lifetime of wisdom and insights that take the reader inside one of the world’s most enigmatic and crucially important of lands. Saudi Arabia? It’s all in here . . .
Robert Lacey, author of The Kingdom and Inside the Kingdom ‘A thorough historical and contemporary guide to the enigma that is the House of Saud, to its Kingdom and to its latest political intrigues. A great single read on a complex subject, key to understanding the Arab World’s likely evolution. Should be prescribed reading for a new generation of political leaders.’
Sir Richard Dearlove, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the University of London; Former Chief of the Secret Intelligence Service (MI6); Former Master of Pembroke College, Cambridge Amidst an array of parabolic pressures ranging from geopolitical forces to economic uncertainty and domestic instability, the House of Saud has long been one of the most powerful families in the Middle East. In spite of this, it faces a number of existential challenges as it moves into the 21st century. Vision or Mirage: Saudi Arabia at the Crossroads offers a fascinating and timely exploration of how the Al Saud dynasty has retained power which is essential in understanding how the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia may evolve in the coming years.
Simon Mabon Senior Lecturer, Lancaster University; author of Houses Built on Sand, The Origins of ISIS and Saudi Arabia and Iran A readable and breezy account of recent developments in Saudi Arabia as well as the author’s interpretation of the transformational and polarizing trends during the last several years. It is a noteworthy contribution to the field.
J. E. Peterson, historian and political analyst, author of Saudi Arabia Under Ibn Saud and Historical Dictionary of Saudi Arabia David Rundell has more experience in Saudi Arabia than any living American diplomat. I relied upon his experience and insight during my time as ambassador to the Kingdom. Rundell’s eye for detail and meticulous research provide the reader with a compelling story of initial conquest and generations of stability followed by a tectonic rupture in the social contract among the ruler, the royal family, and the population.
Robert W. Jordan, former U.S. Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Diplomat in Residence, John G. Tower Center at Southern Methodist University This is a scholarly and expertly crafted practitioner’s account borne of deep familiarity with Saudi Arabia. David Rundell’s remarkable book artfully weaves together the Saudi past and present
deftly analyzing both continuity and change while providing sorely needed context for understanding today’s unprecedented developments.
Joshua Teitelbaum, Bar-Ilan University, Israel; Visiting Scholar, Center for International and Security Cooperation, Stanford University; Author of Saudi Arabia and the New Strategic Landscape A very balanced account of what Saudi Arabia got right, which is often overlooked, and the accumulating challenges the country faces today. Carefully researched, it is neither all gloom and doom nor all-praising.
John Sfakianakis, Fellow of Pembroke College, Cambridge; Co-author of The Saudi Economy in the Twentieth Century A most impressive account of the cunning manner in which King Salman is attempting to secure his family’s place in the 21st century by establishing the fourth kingdom through his son Muhammad bin Salman. David Rundell's insights into historical precedents and personal knowledge of the personalities of the individuals involved is compelling and provides a far more credible narrative of Saudi developments since the death of the late Abdullah bin Abd al-Aziz than other current analysis .
Ambassador Mark G. Hambley, Former American Consul General in Jeddah and Ambassador to Qatar and Lebanon Show Less