Journalists who work in the Arab world often seem to have a compulsion to write books about the region and its people. This survey by a journalist with the Financial Times is among the very best. His view is gloomy as he recounts the conflicts, corruption, and waste of oil money. At times he makes sweeping generalizations that come close to being patronizing and stereotypical. But there always seem to be important grains of truth in his arguments, which make the book important despite its somewhat inconsistent nature.