MBS: The Rise to Power of Mohammad bin Salman

Tim Duggan: Crown. Mar. 2020. 384p. ISBN 9781984823823. $28. POL SCI
Rising from obscurity as one of hundreds of Saudi princes, Mohammad bin Salman, or MBS, as he is often referred to, became Saudi Crown Prince in 2017, having been titled by his father, King Salman. Here, New York Times Beirut bureau chief Hubbard brings to his narrative a broad understanding of the Middle East, which enabled him to interview numerous Saudi citizens to help frame his assessment of a man who may very well become one of the most significant world leaders during the current century. Hubbard covers how the new Crown Prince has initiated a number of reforms in Saudi Arabia, such as granting women the right to drive and making the country more open to tourists. While striving to present a balanced, nuanced account, Hubbard remains sharply critical of the leader’s penchant for ruthless acts against perceived enemies, such as the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018. This account is, by far, the best characterization of this mercurial leader, along with his varied alliances and how he came to develop them.
VERDICT An important and keen assessment of the Saudi Crown Prince that should be on every bookshelf.

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