Inside the Kingdom with Robert Lacey

History and current affairs author Robert Lacey will visit Books & Books at 7pm on Wednesday, 4 November at for a discussion and signing of his latest book, Inside the Kingdom: Kings, Clerics, Modernists, Terrorists, and the Struggle for Saudi Arabia.

With Inside the Kingdom, Mr. Lacey gives readers a remarkable portrait in full of this most enigmatic of lands. More than 20 years after moving to Saudi Arabia during the oil boom to write his groundbreaking epic The Kingdom, Mr. Lacey returned. What he found was a society slowly recovering from the past.

Saudi Arabia is a country defined by paradox: It sits atop some of the richest oil deposits in the world and yet its roiling disaffection produced 15 of the 19 9/11 hijackers. It is a modern state, where wealthy princes and tycoons raise futuristic cities in the desert, and yet its powerful religious establishment would roll back its values fourteen hundred years to the time of the Prophet Mohammed. To fully understand our interdependent 21st-century world, we must understand Saudi Arabia.

In this compelling account, which takes readers from the bloody seizure of Mecca’s Grand Mosque in 1979 to the deepening of US-Saudi relations during the Gulf War of 1991 to the fostering of a new generation of Islamic holy warriors led by Osama bin Laden, Mr. Lacey shows how Saudi Arabia came to the precipice at which it now stands, struggling to learn how to be at war with itself.

Filled with voices of many Saudis, Inside the Kingdom examines the questions on which the uncertain future turns: Can Saudi combatants freed from Guantánamo be rehabilitated through cash payments and arranged marriages? Will a society that still stages public beheadings find a way to address its notorious human rights reputation? And is there any hope of success for King Abdullah’s progressive reforms in a land where rape victims can be sentences to lashings for their ‘immoral’ behaviour?

At its heart, this is a powerfully told story of people attempting to reconcile the religious separatism of the past with the rapidly changing world they can no longer hold at bay. Their success – or failure – will have profound consequences for their own society, for the troubled Middle East, for the countries that struggle with these crucial issues all over the globe – and, not least, for America.

Mr. Lacey is the author of 20 books, including Great Tales from English History, The Year 1000, and the New York Times bestseller The Kingdom. For the last three years, he has split his time between Jeddah, Saudi Arabia and London.

The event, which is free to the public is part of the International Visiting Author Series, sponsored by the Cayman Islands Department of Tourism, Ogier, and Sunshine Suites Resort.