THE DESERT KING: Ibn Saud and his Arabia by David Howarth

THE DESERT KING: Ibn Saud and his Arabia

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Proving that Lawrence was not the only romantic figure in Arabia, this history chronicles the rise of King ibn Saud from warring desert sheik to the ruler of a unified kingdom, the nation which now bears his family name: Saudi Arabia. Father of the present king and of countless other sons from his estimated collection of three hundred wives (four at a time in strict Moslem style), ibn Saud began his conquests in the first years of this century with a small Bedouin army and a talent for desert warfare. Through the years he enlarged and defined his kingdom with new territories from the wars against minor Sheiks and the Turks, from cooperation with the British, and from his strict adherence to the Wahhabi laws of Islam. A powerful and apparently magnetic personality, ibn Saud lived to witness the swing from ags to riches on the money from American oil concerns -- too much money which, in the end, left his sons as squandering playboys, his people even poorer than before, and his own last days unhappy in the sight of morality plundered by wealth. Whether or not his dream of an hereditary Arabian monarchy will survive amidst the notable Middle Eastern instability is now a problem for his sons; in 1953 ibn Saud took himself and his favorite six wives off to the Moslem paradise. History romanticized, but history nonetheless, much of it gleaned from personal recollections and turned into an aromatic version of modern Araby.

Pub Date: June 29th, 1964
Publisher: McGraw-Hill