Ibn Saud

  • by Michael Darlow, Barbara Bray
  • Narrated by Brian Bascle
  • 21 hrs and 52 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Ibn Saud grew to manhood living the harsh traditional life of the desert nomad, a life that had changed little since the days of Abraham. Equipped with immense physical courage, he fought and won, often with weapons and tactics not unlike those employed by the ancient Assyrians, a series of astonishing military victories over a succession of enemies much more powerful than himself. Over the same period, he transformed himself from a minor sheikh into a revered king and elder statesman, courted by world leaders such as Churchill and Roosevelt. A passionate lover of women, Ibn Saud took many wives, had numerous concubines, and fathered almost one hundred children. Yet he remained an unswerving and devout Muslim, described by one who knew him well at the time of his death in 1953 as “probably the greatest Arab since the Prophet Muhammad.” Saudi Arabia, the country Ibn Saud created, is a staunch ally of the West, but it is also the birthplace of Osama bin Laden and 15 of the nineteen 9/11 hijackers. Saud’s kingdom, as it now stands, has survived the vicissitudes of time and become an invaluable player on the world’s political stage.

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Audible Editor Reviews

In the early years of the 20th century, the Arabian Peninsula was populated by loosely affiliated Bedouin tribes living as they had for millennia, with no central power and great vulnerability to the rapidly modernizing world around them. Into this desert land was born a boy the world would come to know as Ibn Saud, or King Abdulaziz, who established the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in 1932 and whose lineage hold the throne to this day.
Performed by Brian Bascle, Michael Darlow and Barbara Bray’s engaging, thorough, and decades-in-the-making biography of this mysterious and important ruler cover Saud’s life from his early years as a desert warrior to his overseeing of the oil boom that elevated his kingdom to the powerful position it holds today.

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What the Critics Say

“An entertainingly exhaustive, though imperfect, biography of an inscrutable monarch.” (Kirkus Review)
“ Darlow and Bray convey the essence of the man as well as the stark, unforgiving landscape that he mastered while forging a nation.” (Jay Freeman, Booklist)
“All in all a successful narrative, though overlong on military exploits and personal vignettes and short on analysis of the massive changes in Arabian society.” (Publishers Weekly)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

A Captivating Portrait of the Man and His Times

What did you love best about Ibn Saud?

This work feels like it was meant for Audible. During the several days it took me to finish listening, I never felt bogged-down by names, dates or factoids. Instead, the author gives us almost lyrical descriptions of the Arabian landscape and paints a living portrait of Ibn Saud as well as figures instrumental in his rise to power. The book is filled with entertaining anecdotes and personal details that help the reader/listener become emotionally invested in the narrative.


What did you like best about this story?

I was impressed by how accessible and easy to follow the narrative Was considering the vast scope of the work. Beyond covering the life of Ibn Saud, this work goes into great detail on Bedouin customs, the formation of Islam and the geopolitical climate of the era. Even though they wern't central to the story, I felt like I better understood the importance of figures such as T.E. Lawrence, Churchill and the Hashemite kings in shaping the modern Middle East after finishing this work.


Which character – as performed by Brian Bascle – was your favorite?

This wasn't that kind of book, but if I had to pick a favorite person portrayed in the narrative it would be Captain William Shakspear. He seemed worthy of the veneration that figures such as T.E. Lawrence were later to inspire more through publicity than by actual exploits.


Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Yes, it was that good.


Any additional comments?


Certain passages of this work, especially of those related to Ibn Saud's personal religious beliefs and his control (or lack therof) on some of the more fanatical Wahabis in his service seemed a bit biased. But no book is perfect.

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- Jeff

Takes you back

I enjoyed this book about one of the greatest Arab leaders in the modern world, however it seems to me that like every book looking in from the outside, it misses some facts and misinterprets/misunderstands some others.

Still, a decent job. Would listen again.
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- Deep Reader "Learn, understand, then decide whether you accept or reject."

Book Details

  • Release Date: 02-23-2013
  • Publisher: Audible Studios