TOO RICH by William Stadiem


The High Life and Tragic Death of King Farouk
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 A sympathetic, if somewhat bifurcated, portrait of the deposed Egyptian playboy king. Stadiem (A Class by Themselves, 1980) seems unsure of how to approach his subject, as long stretches of straightforward history alternate with the type of tittle-tattle usually found at checkout counters. He traces Farouk's ouster and his subsequent career as a buffoonish jet-set celebrity back to the treatment accorded him by the colonial British. The chief instrument of British imperialistic policy was, according to Stadiem, Sir Miles Lampson, Britain's ambassador to Egypt and a man bent on having the young monarch--the immensely handsome and popular Farouk came to the throne at 17--toe the line and ``be a good boy'' by acceding to British wishes in the Mideast. British influence in Egypt, Stadiem points out, was in fact one of the major factors in the rise of Egyptian nationalism as envisioned by such figures as Gamal Abdel Nasser and Anwar el- Sadat; it was this nationalism that eventually toppled Farouk. Though this argument is somewhat simplistic, Stadiem buttresses his position with some convincing data. He is less successful when interviewing Farouk's intimates, ranging from many of the women he bedded to his son Ahmed Fuad, who was briefly king of Egypt until the monarchy was abolished. And an inordinate amount of space is devoted to the king's sexual escapades, which, for good or ill, seem to have been fairly humdrum. Prolix and frequently repetitious, and vacillating from the scholarly to the snickering: a disappointing portrait of a potentially fascinating subject. (Photographs--not seen.)

Pub Date: June 14th, 1991
ISBN: 0-88184-629-5
Page count: 448pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1st, 1991


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