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This is definitely an important book. It is thoroughly researched and, on the whole, it is well-written (my only caveat is that the author's journalistic style sometimes seems disjointed and the narrative flow gets disrupted).
The strength of the book lies in the stories of individuals and groups. The author manages to bring their beliefs, motivations and actions to life in a fascinating way. The weakness of the book also lies in these stories. In many places, I felt I was drowning in the sheer weight of the facts, names and relationships. Too often, the chapters are overloaded with details.
As a result, the book appears to be light on analysis and it is difficult to follow the overall narrative. The initial emphasis on 1979 is very interesting. The rivalry between Iran and Saudi Arabia is the central focus of the book and is covered well. But the author strays into many other conflicts and issues and it is not always clear why she has chosen some and not others. Yemen, Syria, Lebanon (except Hezbollah), Gaza, Afghanistan and Jordan are covered relatively lightly. Pakistan and Egypt receive a lot of attention.
Sometimes, I get the sense that the complexities are being treated too simplistically. For example, much of the treatment of Pakistan focuses on President Zia Ul-Haq himself and the other political and religious driving forces are not covered much (I'm not sure that the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) is even mentioned). The history of the PLO and other Palestinian groupings, especially Hamas, doesn't fit neatly into the Iran-KSA divide, and so on.
In summary, a great idea. I don't regret reading the book but I did find it hardgoing.
The content presented is very interesting and the style as well.
Unfortunately, the quality of the book is very poor (lowest quality of paper, small book with small print). I would rather pay a few francs more only to enjoy the reading. I sent it back and recommend ordering the kindle edition.
Have started my reading of this book. It's definitely a well-written book, easy read for sure. However, I've noticed a trend of seamless/hidden affection for the Pahlavi's. Will have to read more to fairly judge where the trend is going to take me. So far not so bad though. I'll update more when I finish reading.
3/30/2020 UPDATE: I finished reading the book and have been thinking about it. Apart from the fact that most of the book rotates around personal stories, Kim has misguided readers by stating some of her opinions as facts. There are many instances of this, Al Saud war on Yemenis is one. Yemen's Army and government have been behind the Houthi movement. Only after Al Saud's insisted that Hadi to still be the president and forced him to come back, they had a government in-exile. Hadi had resigned weeks before that. Another point, Kim completely fails to mention that Iran is in Syria because it was asked to help Syrian government, same for Russia. Uncle Sam did interfere in Syria and still has Army units in there. Uncle Sam's involvement in Syria was very big before Trump took power. He put an end to all those activities. I am sure Kim knows the current alliances in Lebanon and who protects who against violence but once more, she fails to bring that up, I believe on purpose, to portray a negative image of politics in Lebanon. Most of the protests in Iran that Kim so passionately writes about happened in upscale neighborhoods of select cities and yes she's right they do happen but that is not the sentiment represented by the majority of (85 million) people in Iran. Ahmadinejad's election was predicted in multiple pre-election polls and he was projected to win. I clearly remember reading about it. Moreover, I'd like to remind Kim that Persia is the colonial name given to Iran by colonialists. For millennia, Iran has been called Iran in Iran and surrounding countries. There's proof of that in the literature. This leads me to mention without any doubt that a country with 12000 years of civilization more than 2500 years of which in written history cannot be compared with the tribesman from Al Saud but Kim obviously thinks otherwise.
In the end, I do recommend this book but take it with a grain of salt and don't believe everything in it. Mostly, it's stories not history.