As far as the Western and even most of the world's peoples are concerned, Arabia has been the last large expanse of terra incognita on the globe. In steady decline and increasing isolation ever since the water route to the Indies was discovered, Arabia was not so much incorporated into the British Empire as neutralized, and in effect further removed from the 19th and then the 20th centuries. Three great catalysts were needed to reverse this state of affairs: Britain's withdrawal from the Middle and Far East along with the ensuing nationalist upsurge; development of swift means of travel and communication; and finally the discovery and exploitation of Arabian oil deposits. All these changes took time to gather momentum and it is only in the past ten years that their full effects have been felt. Books about this part of the world, always inadequate at best, have not kept up at all. Mr. Holden's is the first work in English to tell the contemporary story and along with the fact that its material is indispensable, it has been well handled.