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Florence of Arabia

3.58 of 5 stars 3.58  ·  rating details  ·  1,916 ratings  ·  214 reviews
The bestselling author who made mincemeat of political correctness in Thank You for Smoking, conspiracy theories in Little Green Men, and Presidential indiscretions No Way to Treat a First Lady now takes on the hottest topic in the entire world–Arab-American relations–in a blistering comic novel sure to offend the few it doesn’t delight.

Appalled by the punishment of her re
ebook, 272 pages
Published December 18th 2007 by Random House (first published 2004)
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An open letter to Christopher Buckley:

Dear Mr. Buckley,
It is not necessary to make all of your female protagonists sexy. It is even less necessary to remind your readers of their sexiness every four pages.
Someone who usually doesn't roll her eyes while reading your books.

PS- The unconvincing romantic subplot featuring your super sexy heroine was also lame.

PPS- There was some funny stuff in here too. More of the funny, please.
Using the same snarky political farce plot and character structures that he has with his other novels (Thank You For Smoking, No Way to Treat a First Lady) Christopher Buckley tackles feminism and the Middle East. Where his other novels get off to a fast start and speed through until the end, this one takes a bit more to get moving. Once it does get moving, it's entertaining but not quite as cleaver as his other efforts.

Buckley should be praised for tackling such an unfunny set of subjects with
Clif Hostetler
In the spirit of Lawrence of Arabia who freed the Arabs, so also Florence of Arabia bravely set out to free the women of the Middle East from gender injustice in an oppressive theocracy. Every sentence in this story is packed with humor, farce, irony, satire, irreverence, mockery, or exaggerated stereotype. An example of this writing style is contained in this example where the author describes a fictional country as the Middle East's preeminent "no-fun zone," unless"one's idea of fun includes b ...more
Choosing a book to take with you on vacation is a tricky proposition. If you take a classic you've been meaning to read and, hate it, your restful trip turns into a High School English class . If you take an exciting new work and both your eyes and your intellect could be floored by new sites sounds and ideas that change your view of the world, or you could be so confused by what you see and hear and read that you are left with a few souvenirs and a long night of head scratching "what happened?" ...more
Christopher Buckley tackles the plight of women in repressive Middle Eastern societies, in this satire. There were some very funny parts, but because of the subject matter, some really tragic parts as well. But I didn't expect the problem to be solved by Buckley, and I did like reading the book- although some of his others (esp. Boomsday and Thank You for Smoking) leaned more toward the hilarious than the tragic.
I love reading Christopher Buckley books for the humor and political satire. This book definitely has that in parts but a large part (and the best part) was a story of intrigue and spying and an action novel. The first half of the book was rather slow as the plot was set up as an undercover government group set out to disrupt Middle East politics by instigating a revolt by women under the strict rules and non-existent freedom of extreme Muslim laws. They do this by setting up a TV station in one ...more
Ian Wood
This is the complete review as it appears at my blog dedicated to reading, writing (no 'rithmatic!), movies, & TV. Blog reviews often contain links which are not reproduced here, nor will updates or modifications to the blog review be replicated here. Graphic and children's novels reviewed on the blog will generally have some images from the book's interior, which are not reproduced here.

Note that I don't really do stars. To me a novel is either worth reading or it isn't. I can't rate a nove
This is one of Buckley’s earlier books and tackles a touchy subject – the clash between the Arab and American cultures – in a somewhat humorous manner. There are more than a few laugh out loud vignettes but on the whole I didn’t find Florence of Arabia as entertaining as this author’s other books. There’s a disconnect in the writing between farce/satire and serious spy thriller which just doesn’t gel.

Our protagonist, Florence Farfaletti, is a Deputy to the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Near Eas

"Americans are idealists until they have to move their thermostats two degrees; then they become very practical."—Part 6

The audio book of Christopher Buckley’s FLORENCE OF ARABIA is a hilariously fun listen from start to finish.

Recommendation: Read, listen, indulge in satirical Buckley wit.

"If there are no alternatives, then there are no problems."--Chapter 35

MP3 Audio Book edition on loan from:

Highly entertaining political satire.
Florence of Arabia is one of the funniest books I've read by Buckley. It's also one of the poorer written. The editing is worrisome, which seems to be a common problem with some of Buckley's books. The pacing is great for the first three quarters of the book, but after that falls down. The ending, though meant as a bit of a twist, is also lackluster. In the end, these problems don't drag the book down in quality. This isn't meant to be a political thriller set in the Middle East. It isn't even m ...more
Two and half stars. I appreciated the overall message of the book that the United States makes more of a mess during interventions as a way of foreign policy. However there were many aspects of this book I could not get past and that was Buckley's writing style. It is easy to tell that Buckley believes he is the greatest writer and is smarter than most. To me it seemed like he wrote a bland thriller story with some sprinkles of humor than went back through while editing adding ridiculous descrip ...more
Elizabeth Humphries
A Middle Eastern comedy about the emancipation of women is not a book I thought I'd ever experience. But somehow Buckley pulls it off. He includes some of his normal character types - for example, he once again includes a soulless public relations executive, though the character plays a minor role. The book really belongs to Florence Farfaletti, who fell in love with the Middle East as a child and can't help but try to make it more like the fantasy land she dreamed about and less like the realit ...more
Loved it!

I knew it would be a wild ride because I had loved the film adaptation of Christopher Buckley's Thank You for Smoking. As soon as I learned that it was an adaptation, I had to see what else the author had and this was the first one I wanted to read. Florence is a great character, complex enough to be interesting but on a singular mission and loyal to those she cares about.
There are many ways to write a "feminist" plot, but this one doesn't beat around the bush. Florence is out to laun
A quick and light read, funny (at times, given the satire, sadly so), and a page-turner. Definitely peaked my interest in checking out some of Buckley's other books.
Jonathan Lu
Of the 4 books from Christopher Buckley that I have read, this is definitely the least inspiring. Part of the brilliance of his satire is how subtle it usually is with caricature painted extremely in the right places - that is not the case with this book. If the plot line is insipid it's usually forgivable if the scene and characters are sufficiently compelling - this parody of Saudi Arabia did not try to hide anything and followed the course of stereotypes altogether predictably with little sur ...more
This was a very funny satire about politics in the middle east. It revolves around an American woman who formerly worked at the State Department on a secretly funded mission to empower Arab women through a feminist television station. The story is mostly set in Matar, neighbor to the Muslim fundamentalist Wasabia - the parallels to Qatar and Saudi Arabia is hard to miss. It's quite fun, with lots of silly puns on Matar and mutter - that sort of thing. Not fabulous, like Christopher Moore's books ...more
I kind of loathe the phrase "politically incorrect" but I really can't think of a better one to describe this book? It's pretty cutting satire (and it cuts both ways: Middle Eastern intolerance and cynical/incompetent Western meddling) but I remember it as being hilarious so it goes on the list.

Appalled by the punishment of her rebellious friend Nazrah, youngest and most petulant wife of Prince Bawad of Wasabia, Florence Farfarletti decides to draw a line in the sand. As Deputy to the deputy as
Read the STOP SMILING interview with Florence of Arabia author Christopher Buckley:

By Charles Haskell

(This interview originally appeared in the STOP SMILING DC ISSUE)

There are many ways of defining Christopher Buckley. He is the son of William F. Buckley Jr., the late host of Firing Line and the so-called father of modern conservatism. He is a novelist, a political satirist concocting outlandish, though eerily real stories based on various elements of DC poli
Mal Warwick
Feminism in Arabia? Read it here first!

Christopher Buckley proved to me that he’s one of the funniest writers alive today with Thank You For Smoking, They Eat Puppies, Don’t They?, and Little Green Men. Florence of Arabia is, like them, a satirical novel rooted in contemporary issues, but once Buckley had introduced his protagonist and set up the story that revolves around her, I found myself laughing less and less. The difference here is that the issue the novel addresses — the brutal subjugati
The irreverent Mr. Buckley, having already thoroughly mocked lobbyists supporting cigarettes, guns and alcohol in Thank You for Smoking, turns to a subject somewhat less tapped for slapstick and satire: the Middle East.

Assistant to the assistant to the deputy of Middle Eastern Affairs, Florence Farfaletti accidentally gets mixed up in the execution of the wife of a (fictional) Middle Eastern diplomat. She is then volunteered for subsequent covert operation to bring woman's rights to the most mis
A shadowy arm of the US Government decides that the best way to ensure Middle East peace is to liberate the women of the kingdom of Matar, the most enlightened of the Middle East states, particularly in comparison with its neighbor, Wasabia. They enlist disgruntled State Department employee Florence Farfaletti and ask her to launch an Arab TV station catering directly to women. Allowed to pick her own crack team to launch the station, Florence enlists the help of a CIA assassin, a snappy PR man ...more
"The remarkable thing is how well we mean, America. And yet it always turns out so -- badly."
So says "Uncle Sam" a mysterious and powerful figure who gives Florence Farfaletti, a minor State Dep't official, well-versed in Middle Eastern history & language, a chance to change history in the area by empowering women.
She has a PR wizard, a fellow State Dep't whiz (whose idol is Richard Burton), and an ex-Marine CIA hunk on her side, as well as the wife of the emir of Matar, a small country wh
Sep 13, 2007 David rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of Buckley
Buckley writes a Middle East spoof which winds up being a little more grim than some of his other books. It is brief, about 250 pages, and there is a lot of death and violence, possibly inevitable considering the topic.
Florence is about a woman who goes to the fictional country of Matar (pronounced “mutter”, “the Switzerland of the Middle East” ) to run a TV station to incite a rebellion among the women of neighboring Wasabia. This mission is covertly sponsored by the United States Government an
Christopher Buckley is an amazingly talented political satirist and novelist. I believe his success stems from his vast knowledge of the machinations and the ins-and-outs of Washington DC. His story set ups (from government UFO coverups in "Little Green Men" to lobbyist corruption in "Thank You for Smoking"; his stories benefit greatly from his special insight in how things work in America's government. Even the most far-fetched tale has credibility: the reader thinks "Hey, this can really happe ...more
It's been awhile since I've read anything by Christopher Buckley, but this novel is pretty much what you'd expect from him--fast-paced satire involving politics and various related subjects connected to the government. Buckley has made a literary career of mocking Washington types of every stripe and in this zippy novel, he adds some zingers toward the Middle East. The story follows a fetching female government employee sent to a fictitious Arabic country with the idea to rouse up the female pop ...more
Bonnie Irwin
this was my first foray into a Buckley novel, and, I must say, I rather enjoyed it. The satire is not subtle, but it is intelligent, and in Florence, the author has great fun pillorying US foreign policy, repressive Middle East regimes, and the French. It is a humorous, fast read, and good enough that I will try another.
It was good until it started to suck. Buckley's satire on Middle East policy is hilarious in the beginning and I was really starting to love the main character Florence and her attempt to promote women's rights in the Middle East. She goes to Matar (not to be confused with Qatar) and starts to cause trouble, especially in their neighboring country Wasabia (sounds like Saudi Arabia?). Then she refuses to leave even after her generous and anonymous benefactor leaves and other things happen - I kee ...more
Marc Gerstein
Typical biting satirical and delightful Buckely prose. Florence Farfaletti (sp? I list ed on Audible) takes to the airwaves in an effort to incite a move toward women's rights in a tiny Middle East country that she hopes will spread region wide. The action accelerates briskly as the novel progresses, and perhaps a bit too much so as we race toward the end. On the whole, though, the chuckles and laughs follow on quick succession and the satire is so sharp, I'm sure, or at least I hope, Buckley ha ...more
The book was a good laugh almost all the way through. Not very complimentary about certain middle east countries. Has the author received any terrorist threats? Have any fatwas been issued on his behalf? He should watch his back! It really is a hilarious, fun novel and not too bad a story line although highly improbable.
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Christopher Buckley graduated cum laude from Yale University in 1976. He shipped out in the Merchant Marine and at age 24 became managing editor of Esquire magazine. At age 29, he became chief speechwriter to the Vice President of the United States, George H.W. Bush. Since 1989 he has been founder and editor-in-chief of Forbes Life magazine.

Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the Good
More about Christopher Buckley...
Thank You for Smoking Boomsday Supreme Courtship No Way to Treat a First Lady Little Green Men

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