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King Faisal of Saudi Arabia
Personality, Faith and Times
In 1964 Faisal bin Abdul Aziz became king of a country holding a quarter of the world's oil reserves, also home to Mecca and Medina. He was called 'the most powerful Arab ruler in centuries'. Eleven years later, in front of television cameras, his nephew shot him at point-blank range.
In this authoritative biography, Alexei Vassiliev tells the story of a pious, cautious and resolute leader who steered Saudi Arabia through a minefield of domestic problems, inter-Arab relations and the decline of Soviet influence in the Middle East. King Faisal maintained ties with both Egypt and the United States through two Arab-Israeli wars and the 1973 Arab oil embargo, which revolutionized the world energy market. Throughout, he staked high hopes on cooperation with the US, a relationship that is still vital to both countries' interests.
Exhaustively researched and including original documents and interviews in Arabic, Russian and English, King Faisal of Saudi Arabia: Personality, Faith and Times offers a unique perspective of this seminal figure and is key to understanding the Arab world today.
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What Reviewers Are Saying
'Alexei Vassiliev, one of Europe's foremost authorities on the Muslim Middle East and Saudi Arabia in particular, has been a leading light in informing and facilitating our better understanding of the Kingdom's complex history and socio-cultural roots. In his new book, which is a masterpiece of scholarship, he has exceeded even his own very high standards and has thus managed to bring to life the legacy of one of Saudi Arabia's most interesting and also influential figures.' Professor Anoush Ehteshami, Durham University; 'A detailed and fascinating biography ... the story (Vassiliev) tells is a remarkable one. Faisal was an authoritarian ruler who stamped out opposition, and Western diplomats often found him cantankerous. Still, if his father created Saudi Arabia within its current borders, it was Faisal who knitted it together, using oil wealth to turn a backward desert society into a modern state and an actor on the world stage.' The Economist; 'King Faisal is without a doubt the most successful leader of Saudi Arabia in the twentieth century. Alexei Vassiliev's book is an excellent study of this personality and his impact in the country, the region and the world.' Yevgeny Primakov, former Prime Minister of Russia