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Kings and Presidents


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About the Author

Bruce Riedel is a senior fellow and director of the Brookings Intelligence Project, part of the Brookings Center for 21st Century Security and Intelligence. In addition, Riedel serves as a senior fellow in the Center for Middle East Policy. He retired in 2006 after 30 years of service at the Central Intelligence Agency, including postings overseas. He was a senior advisor on South Asia and the Middle East to the last four presidents of the United States in the staff of the National Security Council at the White House. He was also deputy assistant secretary of defense for the Near East and South Asia at the Pentagon and a senior advisor at the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in Brussels.


Few if any Americans have the depth of experience of Bruce Riedel in dealing with the volatile neighborhood inhabited by Saudi Arabia. In this excellent new book, Riedel tells the history of US-Saudi ties through the interactions of Saudi kings and American presidents. He leavens the narrative with charming anecdotes, from the movie Ibn Saud saw en route to his meeting with Franklin Roosevelt, to the `Dr. No'-style aquarium in the palace of King Abdullah. A must-read for both scholars and the general public, the book raises all the necessary questions about the future of the Kingdom and its complicated alliance with the United States."" - Barbara Slavin, Director of the Future of Iran Initiative at the Atlantic Council and author, Bitter Friends, Bosom Enemies: Iran, the US and the Twisted Path to Confrontation

""As the Middle East edges towards another era of convulsion with President Trump's decision about Jerusalem, a new book helps put the turmoil in perspective. Kings and Presidents: Saudi Arabia and the United States Since FDR is a timely analysis of the relationship's history, a careful and respectful dance between a democratic superpower and an autocratic monarchy, in managing common interests including the oil trade and security since 1945."" - Susan Froetschel, YaleGlobal Online

""Riedel, a former National Security Council staffer and CIA analyst, relies on unclassified sources to present a lucid account of an often troubled relationship."" - John Waterbury, Foreign Affairs

""This riveting book is essential reading for anyone interested in U.S. policy in the Middle East or Saudi Arabia. Riedel offers a thorough, thoughtful and candid account of the diplomatic highs and lows between two strange bedfellows. A great contribution to the literature by someone who witnessed it play out from inside the policy establishment and who has known the key players."" - Robin Wright, author of Rock the Casbah: Rage and Rebellion across the Islamic World

""Bruce Riedel has written a thorough, insightful and provocative account of the U.S.-Saudi relationship as seen through the eyes of Kings and Presidents. He proves that understanding history is essential to guiding this very important relationship forward during a time of growing regional uncertainty."" - George Tenet, former Director Central Intelligence Agency

""Political histories are often a snooze, but Riedel is a lively, opinionated writer whose sympathy with his subjects' viewpoints will enlighten most readers."" - Kirkus Reviews

""Kings and Presidents offers a quick and insightful tour through decades of ups and downs, from the oil embargo in the 1970s to Iran-Contra in the 1980s to the scars of the Arab Spring. Better yet, Riedel, a former CIA officer who advised several presidents, calls on years of U.S. government experience to pepper his story with plenty of firsthand recollections and anecdotes."" - Foreign Policy

""Navigating the myriad complexities and cross currents of U.S.-Saudi relations since the end of World War II is a daunting process even for experienced foreign policy analysts. That journey is made easier by Bruce Riedel's masterful new book, Kings and Presidents: Saudi Arabia and the United States since FDR. . . . While Riedel's recounting of the historical importance of kings and presidents is admirable, perhaps the book's greatest value is a brief but persuasive assessment of the issues shaping Saudi Arabia now and in the future."" - Jack Caravelli, The Washington Free Beacon

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