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MBS: The Rise to Power of Mohammad bin Salman

Narrated by: Robert Petkoff
Length: 11 hrs and 49 mins
4.7 out of 5 stars (7 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

The gripping chronicle of the rise of Saudi Arabia's secretive and mercurial new ruler.

MBS is the untold story of how one man fought his way to the summit of power in Saudi Arabia, the wealthiest country in the Middle East and a key ally of the United States. Even in his youth as an obscure prince among the vast Saudi royal family, Mohammed bin Salman nurtured sweeping ambitions to accumulate power and reshape his staunchly conservative kingdom and its interactions with the world.

He got his chance in 2015, when his father, King Salman, ascended to the throne. MBS became known as 'Mr. Everything', the young leader working to overhaul the kingdom's economy, loosen its strict Islamic social codes and confront its enemies around the region, especially Iran. That vision won him fans at home and in foreign capitals, including in Washington, where President Trump embraced the prince as a key partner in his own vision for the Middle East. Over time, however, the sheen of the visionary young reformer has tarnished, leaving many wondering whether MBS is actually an aspiring dictator whose lack of experience and rash decisions are destabilising the world's most volatile region.

Based on years of reporting in and outside of Saudi Arabia and hundreds of interviews, MBS provides new insights into Saudi Arabia's catastrophic military intervention in Yemen, the bizarre kidnapping of the Lebanese prime minister and the surprise detention of hundreds of princes and businessmen in the Riyadh Ritz-Carlton. And it explores one of the greatest scandals of the young prince's rise, the brutal murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi by MBS’ deputies, a crime that shocked the world and shook Saudi Arabia’s relationship with Washington.

MBS is a riveting portrait of a young autocrat whose actions and obsessions will reverberate across the Middle East.

©2020 Ben Hubbard (P)2020 Penguin Random House LLC

Critic Reviews

"A rare and penetrating look behind the curtain of the world’s most important family and its dangerous new leader. Ben Hubbard brings all the strands together in this absorbing biography." (Lawrence Wright)

"A devastating profile of the Saudi prince who rose rapidly to become one of the Middle East’s most powerful players - and one of the world’s most ruthless leaders. Ben Hubbard has provided a chilling and occasionally horrifying portrait of a man known world-wide simply by his initials, MBS. It’s a captivating read." (Robin Wright, author of Rock the Casbah: Rage and Rebellion across the Islamic World)

"Saudi Arabia is testing the extremes of tradition and innovation, of half-baked visions and intensifying repression. Ben Hubbard's authoritative reporting on the inner sanctums of its society offers a perfect synthesis of journalism and area expertise: the best description we have at the moment of why things happen as they do in the Kingdom." (Robert D. Kaplan, author of The Return of Marco Polo's World: War, Strategy, and American Interests in the Twenty-first Century)

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  • Nicole P.
  • 04-10-2020

Spellbounding & Informative

I was hooked from beginning to end. The authors personal experiences added extra clout and meaning. Each chapter was well written, with interesting analysis. The narrator also did a superb job! Highly recommended.

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  • Lance Johnson
  • 08-06-2020

A lopsided view, but a great read nonetheless

I enjoyed this book, but there are several caveats I need to point out, which may not be the verbalised views of the author (or he may not think of them like that) but his true views come into play: (1) USA is great (2) Democracy is great (3) Watching cinemas is great (4) Always write a book from Ivory towers and not demonstrating ground reality is good journalism (5) Not bringing different perspectives on a topic is how the failing New York Times likes to write articles (6) If the USA commits mass murder e.g. Iraq/Libya/American Indians/Black people; Israel commits apartheid - excellent- I will ignore this - instead I will point out the cruelty that a country that the USA has supported for generations. (7) Arabs are not smart people - except the ones who agree with my views. OK - everyone - I want you to answer this question (something Ben Hubbard should do) - You are leader of a country with 40 million people with 60% under the age of 16. The reality is: (1) Your population became wealthy rapidly because of work they did not do. (2) Your population is lazy - they are fat cows eating the grass - and do not wish to be disturbed. (3) You elite are corrupt and waste money in Western countries every year (4) Your army is a joke. (5) You have foreign powers desperate for your oil resource. (6) Your religious elite, though well meaning, fail to understand the reality of the ground, cannot construct anything in a positive manner, and some may actually be destructive to your society. You got that - ok - go establish a fair and just society! MBS is a fool, no one denies that. But the idiot elite decided for some dumb reason to put him forward, the book doesn't really clarify that. His dad Salman is demented, that much is obvious. But someone thought he would be a good king, just to manipulate him, MBS is trying but he does not have the intelligence to do establish a state. He has never had any political experience nor had to develop personality traits of leadership/wisdom. The only smart people from the Saudi elite are two (1) King Faisal - killed by the Americans for oil crisis in the 1960s/70s. (2) Turki al-Faisal - though he is making a lot of mistakes Will you enjoy this book? Yes but be aware that is it coloured by Ben's prejudice. Highlights of the book: Stories about their background, some insight into how the kingdom work, the Jamal Khashoggi story. Downside: Dude where are the interviews with Jamal Khashoggi wife? One sided view. All and all, a great listen to while driving the car back and forward to work.

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  • M. McGuirk
  • 27-07-2020

Double lives

Absolutely fascinating, Mr Hubbard has shown us how this enigmatic Kingdom works. Outwardly Saudi is a sophisticated tech savvy affluent society, but the mindset of its population is borderline medieval. MBS seems to want to Westernise/modernise his country, but his USA mentor/partner is Gerard Kushner of all people. So money is the new God, and anyone who stands in our way is ruthlessly swept away. If you want to understand a person, look at his friends. I would recommend this book to middle American evangelical Trump voters. A real eye opener of a book, highly recommended

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  • Midnight Chance
  • 30-06-2020

Fascinating insight

I'm interested in learning about the dynamics of the Middle East and its hold over foreign powers with regards to oil and wealth. This book provides a fascinating insight into the rise of MBS and the changes he's brought to Saudi Arabia. I highly recommend it.

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  • Mugster1
  • 23-06-2020

Good but somewhat repetitive

This is a useful insight into recent goings on in the kingdom. Good for an introduction for those who don’t know much about it but there is little new for people who are keen Saudi watches. A useful refresher though.

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  • Mr. Hamid Abdulkareem
  • 17-06-2020

An absorbing read!

Very informative. Analyses problematic issues without being alarmist. We've forgotten too easily what befell Jamal Khashoggi. This was a stark reminder that all isn't well.

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  • ka
  • 01-06-2020

couldn't stop listening

a great insight into what makes Saudi Arabia the country it is today and highlights scandals that have populated world media in recent years

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 11-05-2020

Great insight into modern Saudi Arabia

Really enjoyed this. Great book, packed with info on MBS. A must read for all interested in this fascinating country.

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  • MJ
  • 16-04-2020

interesting & insightful but intellectually light.

I found the narrative interesting but the author is no Bob Woodward. MBS is dangerous!