King Faisal

King Faisal

Personality, Faith and Times

9780863561290 October 2015 Paperback 528pp 49 b & w photographs

About the Book

In 1964 Faisal bin Abdul Aziz became king of a country holding a quarter of the world’s oil reserves, also home to Mecca and Medina. He was called ‘the most powerful Arab ruler in centuries’. Eleven years later, in front of television cameras, his nephew shot him at point-blank range.

In this authoritative biography, Alexei Vassiliev tells the story of a pious, cautious and resolute leader who steered Saudi Arabia through a minefield of domestic problems, inter-Arab relations and the decline of Soviet influence in the Middle East. King Faisal maintained ties with both Egypt and the United States through two Arab–Israeli wars and the 1973 Arab oil embargo, which revolutionized the world energy market. Throughout, he staked high hopes on cooperation with the US, a relationship that is still vital to both countries’ interests.

Exhaustively researched and including original documents and interviews in Arabic, Russian and English, King Faisal of Saudi Arabia: Personality, Faith and Times offers a unique perspective of this seminal figure and is key to understanding the Arab world today.

About the Author

Alexei Vassiliev is Honorary President of the Institute for African Studies at the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS). He is the author of over forty books, including the critically acclaimed The History of Saudi Arabia, winner of the Choice Outstanding Academic Book Award, Central Asia: Political and Economic Challenges in the Post-Soviet Era, and King Faisal of Saudi Arabia: Personality. Faith and Times. The recipient of many awards, he is also Editor-in-chief of Asia and Africa Today, and has been the primary editor of about 50 monographs, including the two-volume Encyclopedia of Africa. His works have been translated into over 14 languages. He is a member of the International Security Section of the Security Council of the Russian Federation and of the Foreign Policy Council of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.


'A masterpiece of scholarship – brings to life the legacy of one of Saudi Arabia's most interesting and also influential figures. This book, clearly a result of years of research and reflection, is the most comprehensive and accomplished account of King Faisal's upbringing, his youth, and reign.'
Professor Anoush Ehteshami, Durham University

‘An excellent study of [King Faisal] and his impact in the country, the region and the world.’
Yevgeny Primakov, former Prime Minister of Russia

'A detailed and fascinating biography … the story [Vassiliev] tells is a remarkable one. Faisal was an authoritarian ruler who stamped out opposition, and Western diplomats often found him cantankerous. Still, if his father created Saudi Arabia within its current borders, it was Faisal who knitted it together, using oil wealth to turn a backward desert society into a modern state and an actor on the world stage.'
The Economist