In This Review

Saudi Arabia Enters the Twenty-First Century: The Political, Foreign Policy, Economic, and Energy Dimensions
Saudi Arabia Enters the Twenty-First Century: The Political, Foreign Policy, Economic, and Energy Dimensions
By Anthony H. Cordesman
Praeger, 2003, 608 pp
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Given its heft, this work will likely become a reference to be consulted, not a book to be read. As such, it is a splendid resource, providing the comprehensive coverage suggested by its subtitle. A chapter on Saudi foreign relations includes summary descriptions of Saudi ties to its neighboring states, the United States, and several others. Another describes the Saudi political system. There is even a chapter offering a detailed narrative account of the Islamist opposition to the Saudi state. Most of this big book, however, treats the basic social and economic institutions and issues that define Saudi Arabia today, ranging from education to privatization to the petroleum sector and beyond. An awesome number of charts and tables usefully compare Saudi standings with other countries. This text is more than a handbook. In it, Cordesman presents to the reader a Saudi government with many problems and a mixed record that is nevertheless more stable and more effective than present-day critics believe.