A study of royal succession from the time of the legendary Ibn Saud to the present day, this book gauges the strengths and weaknesses of the Saudi state and sets out likely future developments once the ailing King Fahd leaves the scene. The Saudis are a sprawling, complex dynasty, comprising some 5,000 princes; a narrower circle of male relatives dominates the state's high-ranking posts. Kechichian does a heroic job in keeping all these individuals straight. His chronological treatment, ruler by ruler, weaves into the narrative the various internal and external challenges to the dynasty. Ninety-seven pages of appendices, chronologies, genealogical tables, and short biographical sketches make this book a useful reference. Will the Saudi regime survive and even thrive? Kechichian's appraisal is cautiously optimistic.