Andrew Hammond’s magnificent The Islamic Utopia: The Illusion of Reform in Saudi Arabia (Pluto, 2012), has been reviewed in the Guardian by Ian Black. His article glowingly reported on Hammond’s work as combining ‘dense, informed analysis with the rare experience of working as a journalist in “one of the world’s most unusual and enigmatic countries in the most interesting of times”.’
Reproducing a paragraph here, Black goes on to say
[In] his book The Islamic Utopia (Pluto, £17.99), Andrew Hammond neatly decapitates the argument that the ultra-conservative kingdom (which, it bears repeating, is named after its ruling family) is undergoing a credible reform process. Since the 9/11 attacks, which upset their cosy relationship with the US, the Saudis have claimed to be leading the fight against jihadism and to be responding (cautiously) to demands for change at home. Attention abroad focuses on eye-catching issues such as allowing women to drive – though even if that happens, he argues, it will have no impact, in a country without political parties or a parliament, on the wider issue of the right of citizens to take part in their own governance.
The Illusion of Reform in Saudi Arabia
Highly informed inside account of the prospects for democracy in Saudi Arabia which challenges the West’s alliance with the Saudi royal family.
“If there is anyone who can write knowledgeably and intelligently about Saudi Arabia, it is Andrew Hammond. His deep knowledge of politics and culture in the Middle East uniquely qualifies him to undertake this project. Hammond’s track record is independent and critical, and this book adds to our knowledge of a kingdom that is often shrouded with mystery and propaganda.” – As’ad AbuKhalil, Department of Politics, California State University Stanislaus, author of The Battle for Saudi Arabia
“Fascinating. Reconciles the demands of scholarly depth with keen personal insights into everyday life in Saudi Arabia.” – Larbi Sadiki, Senior Lecturer in Middle East Politics, University of Exeter