David Long's portrait of Saudi Arabia depicts the kingdom as one of the least understood countries in the world. This survey encompasses the many facets of Saudi life - the land and people, their religion and culture, the country's history, politics, economics and foreign policy. Drawing upon extensive firsthand experience of the kingdom, Long depicts the often contradictory impulses of a country committed both to modernisation and to the values of a traditional society.
Alongside his discussion of oil and the Saudi economy, for example, is a chapter on the annual Hajj, or pilgrimage, to Makkah. Additional chapters explore the intricacies of the Saudi monarchy, the potential threat of Islamic fundamentalist revolutionaries, and the enormous impact of runaway population growth.
Perhaps more significantly, Long attempts to see things from a Saudi point of view. Neither a polemicist nor an apologist, he explores his fascination with the kingdom of Saudi Arabia - its successes and foibles, and most of all, its resiliency in response to the pressures of modernisation and social change.