Crosswinds

Crosswinds : The Way of Saudi Arabia

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Beginning in 1937, when a young Minnesota-born mining engineer by the name of Thomas Barger first arrived in Arabia (the first Westerner to do so), that country has been somewhat of a mystery to America. In "Crosswinds: The Way of Saudi Arabia," Fouad Ajami presents a firsthand look at the political culture in Saudi Arabia and its conduct and influence in foreign lands, from the early 1990s to the present day. From the influence of Islam in public life to Saudi rulers' attitudes toward the Bush and Obama administrations, the author fills a significant gap in our understanding of that country.During the course of two decades, Ajami has gained access to Saudis from all walks of life. In these pages he reveals, largely in their own words, their true feelings on a broad range of subjects. He also draws from a new wave of Saudi literature, revealing works of fiction and biography that afford us a fresh view of the Saudi reality. In addition, he conveys the thoughts of the bloggers, with all their verve, irreverence, immediacy, providing a window into the world of the skeptics and the modernists in that land. Ajami doesn't ask the sort of questions that have been the norm in the standard writing on Arabia: the sources of instability, the prospects of its rulers, or the problems of succession from one royal to another. Rather, he depicts the journey of that country during the past twenty-odd years, charting the "Saudi way" both at home and abroad.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 203 pages
  • 140 x 216mm
  • Stanford, United States
  • English
  • New edition
  • First Edition, 1st ed.
  • 081791174X
  • 9780817911744

Flap copy

America has been in Arabia for well over six decades, yet American access to the inner workings of the Saudi world is limited at best. Even the 9/11 Commission could only scratch the surface of things: "Saudi Arabia has been a problematic ally in combating Islamic extremism," its report stated. "At the level of high policy, Saudi Arabia's leaders cooperated with American diplomatic initiatives aimed at the Taliban or Pakistan before 9/11. At the same time, Saudi Arabia's society was a place where Al Qaeda raised money directly from individuals and through charities. It was the society that produced 15 of the 19 hijackers." In "Crosswinds: The Way of Saudi Arabia," Fouad Ajami attempts to unravel the mystery that is Saudi Arabia: its political culture, its religious life, its relationship to the United States and the rest of the world, and all that makes up "the Saudi way."Told in large part in the Saudis' own words, "Crosswinds: The Way of Saudi Arabia" offers revealing insights into nearly every aspect of life in that country, from the "official" Saudi narrative of its own perfection-rooted in a cultural reluctance to name, and thus acknowledge, its troubles-to why the sordid political condition of the Arab and Muslim world worked to the advantage of the House of Saud to how the ethos of the Arabian Peninsula's cultural uniqueness can become an all-too-convenient alibi for intolerance and self-righteousness. Ajami also details the inner workings of the Saudi leadership, including how the Saudi ruling bargain was radically changed by the first gulf war of 1990-91, why President Obama's promise of engagement with Iran awakened dormant Saudi suspicions that an American deal with Iran would be made at their expense, and how the 2003 terrorist bombings in Riyadh--"Saudi Arabia's 9/11"--brought about a remarkable change in the official Saudi line on terrorism."I am lucky to have some access, gained over the course of two decades, to Saudis drawn from a broad segment of the population," says Ajami in his foreword. "I try in these pages to be true to what they told me." The result is a fascinating look inside a complex land and its people.
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Back cover copy

Fouad Ajami presents a firsthand look at the political culture in Saudi Arabia and its conduct and influence in foreign lands from the early 1990s to the present day. From the influence of Islam in public life to Saudi rulers' attitudes toward the Bush and Obama administrations, the author fills a significant gap in our understanding of that country.During the course of two decades, Ajami has gained access to Saudis from all walks of life. In these pages he reveals, largely in their own words, their true feelings on a broad range of subjects. He also draws from a new wave of Saudi literature, revealing works of fiction and biography that afford us a fresh view of the Saudi reality. In addition, he conveys the thoughts of the bloggers, with all their verve, irreverence, and immediacy, providing a window into the world of the skeptics and the modernists in that land. With an insider's eye for detail, he depicts the journey of that country during the past twenty-odd years, charting the "Saudi way" both at home and abroad.
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About Fouad Ajami

Fouad Ajami is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and the cochair of the Working Group on Islamism and the International Order. He is also the Majid Khadurri Professor of Middle East Studies in the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University.
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