To calculate the overall star rating and percentage breakdown by star, we do not use a simple average. Instead, our system considers things like how recent a review is and if the reviewer bought the item on Amazon. It also analyses reviews to verify trustworthiness.
In all honesty, the book is not quite what I was expecting, but it turned out to be better! I was anticipating an IR analysis of proxy conflicts, somewhat similar to Christopher Phillips 'The Battle for Syria', but with details about Iran backing Hizbollah in Lebanon and Syria and the Houthis in Yemen, with the Saudi's backing alternative militants and regimes across the regime to counter Iranian influence. While these conflicts are mentioned, this is not what the focus of the book. It is not a traditional IR analysis in that sense. However, do not let that put you off this book.
If anything this book has made me realise that a traditional IR analysis alone is insufficient to account for the progression of this rivalry and the current dynamics in the Middle East. This book delves into the ideologies within the various strands of political Islam and how from 1979, the Iranian Revolution and Saudi insecurity over their custodianship of Mecca led to increasingly conservative policies and a proliferation of Salifist ideology and sectarianism. At times some of the links between events in Pakistan or Egypt seemed a bit tenuous for the type of analysis I have been accustomed to in literature on this region, but they serve as examples of how Tehran and Riyad's respective drives towards religious piety transformed the narrative of political debate in the Middle East, culminating in the present conflict zones in Syria, Yemen and Iraq.
If you are looking for a detailed deconstruction of foreign meddling in Yemen or Syria, this is not your book (though they are both referenced). However, I would still recommend this book for anyone wanting to learn about the region and about political Islam. The book in written in an eloquent and captivating style, with local stories and local perspectives. I could not put it down!
This is a very well-written and easily readable evaluation of how the people of the Middle East have brought their current predicament upon themselves. Impeccably researched, it is one of the very few books that does not criticise colonialists, Zionists, the USA etc but explains that the root of the problems is the way in which gullible masses were hijacked by fundamentalist fanatics.
A brilliant account of the past 40 years in the middle east, great for someone like me that sees news reports and not much else. I said depressing as it does show how easily things can deteriorate, but actually there are a lot of positives in the book, I just hope the people still struggling get there in the end....
I obtained this book from my local library and after 20 pages considered is so good that I bought a copy. It is a fantastic book that has provided me with an insite to the present situation in the Middle East. Its a reflection on nationalism and religion in today's world that shows our faults writ large. In summary I found the author's comment: Travelling around the retgion to conduct my reporting for this book I osscillated between despair and hope."
I just literally out it down. Amazing reading, I read it in one sitting over the weekend. The author manages complex topics of an ever-complex regional network of Middle East región in a captivating fashion and mesmerizing style. I particularly loved the way societies were portrayed through the image of individuals, from scholars to anchorwomen, describing their personal struggle with those of the societies they represent.
Perhaps the most clear and concise book ever on Middle Eastern politics ever written. It's fascinating and Illuminating, tying up a lot of loose geopolitical ends within the events taking place in the 20th century. Looking at certain events within their chronological context, I found the theory that Khomeini perhaps turned his attention to Rushdie and other cultural phenomena subsequently deemed haram to divert attention from the Saudi victory in Afghanistan especially interesting... A fantastic book!
A poignant, heartfelt and enlightening account of how the struggle for supremacy between Saudi and Iran has bred monsters and brought mysery to the Middle East. Some of the facts in this well-researched book I knew, most (such as the roots of Wahhabism in Saudi, its lik with the al-Saud family, and its role in the creation of extremism in the Sunni world) I didn’t.