Ed. Note: This is a guest review from Greg Noth.
Karen Elliott House’s new book, On Saudi Arabia, is a good introduction to the many contradictions, problems, and issues that confront Saudi Arabia today. It is the result of thirty years of research from living in the oil producing capital of the world. House, a former editor and foreign correspondent for the Wall Street Journal, approaches her subject like one would expect a veteran journalist to—a method which has its strengths and weaknesses.
On the plus side, she uses fact after fact and interview after interview to support her case, and does a good job drawing reasonable conclusions from the information she has. On the slightly negative side, writing a book is not the same as writing a newspaper article: no one reads newspapers for pleasure. That’s not to say On Saudi Arabia reads just like a really long newspaper article, but the writing didn’t especially captivate me, and I think it has to do with the style of writing House built a successful career on. Continue reading