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Blood and Oil: Mohammed bin Salman's Ruthless Quest for Global Power

4.29  ·  Rating details ·  1,299 ratings  ·  121 reviews
**Named a Best Book of 2020 by Fortune, Wired, and Kirkus Reviews**

From award-winning Wall Street Journal reporters Justin Scheck & Bradley Hope (coauthor of Billion Dollar Whale), this revelatory look at the world's most powerful ruling family reveals how a rift within Saudi Arabian royalty produced Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, a charismatic leader with a ruthless st
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published September 1st 2020 by Hachette Books
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Thomas Wright
Jul 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A pacy read that unpacks the unlikely story of one of the world’s most enigmatic and ruthless leaders, who remains close to Kushner and others in the US administration. It’s also a lively primer on the history of Saudi Arabia and the wider Gulf region. Highly recommended.
Nov 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Solid 5 stars. Because of this book I'm reading
1. Black Wave by Kim Ghattas
2. MBS by Ben Hubbard
3. The Killing in the Consulate by Jonathan Rugman, and
4. Vision or Mirage by David Tindell

I'm ecstatic.
Sep 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: firstreads, biography
I won this book in a goodreads drawing.

Mohammed bin Salman was little known until a few years ago, when he began his rise to power in Saudi Arabia. He really came to fame during the Khashoggi scandal, when a reporter was lured into the Saudi's Turkey Embassy, murdered, dissected, and smuggled out of the country in diplomatic bags. Suddenly, everybody knew his name.

The authors go through his life of accumulating power in Saudi Arabia, until he is the de facto leader of the whole country. Some fas
Oct 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-netgalley
*** 4 Stars ***

After recently living in the Middle East for a year I was very excited to read this and it did not disappoint.
This provided an understanding Mohammed bin Salman and his rise to power along with interesting insight to the US relationship with Saudi Arabia.
A lot of discussions regarding the assassination of journalist Jamal Khashoggi and the infamous sheikhdown at the Ritz-Carlton in Riyadh.
Excellent story telling with attention to detail, I highly recommend.

Special Thanks to Ne
Muna G.
Purchasing this book, I was hesitant. Maybe both due to my patriotism towards the kingdom and my admiration for MBS. But because of those exact reasons I chose to read it and see what Mr.Hope had to say. Having been born and raised in Saudi, an absolute monarchy, with citizens devoted to their religion and their rulers, some of the stories dont come off as shocking. Our norms here don’t really see cutting off a prince as a shock, in fact, we support any executive actions taken towards improving ...more
Rachel Zhou
Sep 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
From the authors of Billion Dollar Whale comes another riveting account of the meteoritic rise of one of the world’s youngest and most powerful leaders.

There are two points I admire the most about this book. First is the details. Much of what was described here were tiny, subtle, yet undeniably important details that fill in missing pieces of public news stories that everyone thought they knew already. But once exposed here, it invokes an AHA! moment that fills in the gaps on the how, and even
Justas Šaltinis
Jan 10, 2021 rated it it was amazing
"The McKinsey and BCG people were certainly smart, but such consultants were also mercenaries, and they had an intrinsic conflict of interest: It never behooved that consultants to say no."

"Aramco, in contract, was basically the biggest mom-and-pop in the world. It was accountable to one man, the Saudi king, and under no obligation to follow anyone else' rules."

"They knew that after a succession in Saudi Arabia, the flow of money shift to the family of the new king."
Andrés Torres
Jan 12, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
I was extremely pleased with this book. The amount of investigation done by Hope and Scheck is surreal. To be able to have such a detailed story on one of the most powerful and secretive man in the world is truly astonishing.
Paulius Pikelis
Oct 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The rise of MBS through the eyes of investigate jounalists. How MBS got unlimited/unchecked power and how the world looks like when u have unlimited money. I was keenly following any stories BBC wrote on Saudi Arabia, but having read the book, I feel that BBC was very shallow and never got to the core. A good read to get a sense of how Saudi Arabia changed in the last several years and the (global) role Saudi Arabia's crown prince plays. ...more
Kazue Evans
Oct 19, 2020 rated it really liked it
This book came out just last month. It feels very current and relevant. I learned a lot about Saudi Arabia and the Gulf region. At the same time, it reads like a fiction, and is highly entertaining.
This was an interesting and very detailed account of the rise of Mohammed bin Salman, also referred to as "MBS" through the Saudi Royal family.
Authors Bradley Hope and Justin Scheck are long-time writers for the Wall St. Journal.

Justin Scheck (L) and Bradley Hope (R) :

Blood and Oil: Mohammed bin Salman's Ruthless Quest for Global Power is a somewhat no-frills, matter-of-fact look inside the inner workings of the Al Saud, or House of Saud - the ruling royal family of Saudi Arabia.
Jan 02, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Blood and Oil - Bradley Hope & Justin Scheck

This is genuinely one of the most gripping books I’ve ever read. If you want to understand Saudi Arabia, it’s history, and the future direction this nation is going then this is the page-turning book to get.

Hope and Scheck set out in great and insightful detail the rise to power of Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman of Saudi Arabia (or MBS) and how he won over or rolled over anyone who stood in his way, family members included. Salman, heir to the Saud
Sreeraag Mohan
Oct 23, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My father rode a camel, I drive a Cadillac, and my son would probably drive a camel.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has a problem. It functions on a delicate power-sharing system: the King refers to himself as the 'Custodian of the two Holy Mosques', and as long as he kowtows to the ultra-conservative Wahhabist clergy, they will back him up with the legitimacy he needs to continue on the throne. Things were good; the populace turned a blind eye and distanced themselves from radical ideas such as 'de
Sam Reaves
Dec 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
Mohammed bin Salman has erupted onto the world stage in the past five years, assuming the title of Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, i.e. king-in-waiting, and initiating a series of economic and social reforms aimed at bringing the Kingdom into the modern world. He is widely seen as a positive force, pushing against the conservative Wahabi clerics to liberalize Saudi society and starting to wean the country's economy off oil. But there's a darker side as well, with the ruthless prosecution of a war ...more
Sep 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Quest for power in Saudi Arabia and global politics

The book is an engaging telling on the historical developments in Saudi Arabia, the quest for power in the rich & powerful House of Saud, and the dramatic rise of its third generation and current prince MBS. The book is a pacy read and has extensive details of the chilling dramatic coups within the family, the ruthless decisions to reshape middle east politics and Saudi's connection with the indecisive US administration. While some parts of the
Oct 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
The book is inherently limited by MBS' young age & relative inexperience, and for that reason it felt like there are only so many salient events to use in illustration/analysis of his character and ambition.

That being said, I thought this was insightful and often entertaining- love me some monarchy tea! It's well worth the time if you're looking for a quick crash course on the Al Saud monarchy, its role in the ME geopolitics and the staggering hypocrisy and brutality of MBS' rule.

(Little aside
Ryan Hannay
Oct 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
Just once I'd like someone to take power and actually use it for good. MBS is a mixed bag, on the one hand modernizing the country and at the same time cracking down on enemies and obstacles in his way with the typical methods (arrest, fines, torture, etc.) And we're stuck with a President who only cares about getting a piece of the oil money, and will not hold him accountable. This will probably not end well... ...more
Cathy Liu
Dec 24, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I’ve been on a bend with these investigative journalism style of books. The authors outline Mohammed bin Salman’s step by step ascent to becoming arguably the most powerful man in the Middle East. MBS is a complex character: calculating and ruthless, yet charismatic and progressive (in some ways). His rise changed two dynamics: his position within the multi-generational ruling Saud family, and the position of the kingdom amongst its powerful neighbors. Finally, this book put the pieces together ...more
Sandeep Narayanan
Dec 17, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A well researched and engrossing page turner of a book that takes us right into the heart of the Saudi royal family.

The palace intrigue, the politics and the unlikely rise of Mohammed bin Salman form the core narrative of this book. If you are looking for a profile of MBS and his rising power in the region then this is the perfect starting point.
I guess all i can say is (or quote):

4_Adequate guarantees to be given and taken so that national armaments are reduced to the smallest possible point compatible with internal security. "

5_ "A free, open, absolutely impartial adjustment of all colonial territories, based on the principle that in determining all questions about sovereignty, the interests of the populations concerned are taken into account as much as the fair demands of the government who's the title is to be determined. "

Willson w
Jessica Wilkins
Nov 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is an excellent piece of journalism about an opaque society and its ruler. It's a detailed and punchy account of an influential country in fluctuation between centuries of traditions and one man's ruthless ambitions. Definitely one to read as we go into a new American Presidency. ...more
Michelle Kim
Dec 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is Succession on extreme steroids I cannot believe the number of execs mentioned. Basically every company one might recruit for. Y’ALL ARE ALLLLLLLLL CRIMINALS!!!!!! GO TF TO JAIL MY GOODNESS
Dec 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Fascinating read about modern-day royal intrigue, scheming, murder and ambitions!

I'm curious how the current economic plans would look like in a decade. They might not even need it considering the power accumumlating through investments abroad

All in all, highly recommend!
Nate Kay
Sep 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Blood and Oil delivers on its promise to show us the inner workings of the Saudi royal family. Considering how many descendants the Al Saud dynasty brought to this world, prepare to juggle with a lot of names while going through the book. The authors try to stay focused on describing personalities and their deeds but somehow avoid giving us a much broader perspective on the lives of ordinary people in Saudia Arabia. Due to the lack of such a broader context, the Saudi ruling elites appear to be ...more
Benjamin Pierce
Dec 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
As someone who loved Billion Dollar Whale, this was just as much of a page-turner and I finished it in two nights. Highly recommend this book to anyone interested in middle eastern politics, and the changing times in Saudi Arabia.
Sep 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
One of the best books I have read all year, it's fascinating and well written and reads like Game of Thrones. ...more
Marsilla Dewi-Baruch
Oct 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Very disappointed, not towards this book or the author. But my disappointment as a muslim on Mohamed and the royal family, whose main responsibility is to guard the Holy Cities. Flamboyance, unbridled extravagance and debauchery have cornered them to become the vilest family in the gulf.
Oct 23, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It’s the age of authoritarianism and no surprise for guessing this MBS, crown Prince of Saudi Arabia is just that. Although he cleverly disguises himself as a reformer. That is probably true because Saudi Arabia has such a low base to begin with, woman can’t drive, c’mon.

Not exactly a page-turner but an intriguing read on the rise of MBS. It doesn’t go too much into the details of the Khashoggi murder and portrays the geopolitics of the contemporary times in the Gulf states.
Bilal Sahir
Dec 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Written by Bradley Hope and Justin Scheck, two Wall Street Journal Journalists, it covers the journey of a Saudi Prince who was nearly unknown to the International Community before 2014 just like another Grandson of Al-Saud and within just two to three years he was controlling the top to bottom of the richest country in the world. The Thing which makes this book special is that at no point it will feel to you a boring non-fiction. In fact, it has more thrill than even some good fiction pieces.

Kyle Weil
Oct 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
I've been on an Oil reading binge the past few weeks and was expecting Blood and Oil: Mohammed bin Salman's Ruthless Quest for Global Power to be more focused on oil itself. Instead, Blood and Oil focuses on MBS's brutal rise and consolidation of power in Saudi Arabia. Using an extensive range of sources, Hope is able to paint a dramatic picture of the corruption and cruelty in MBS's Saudia Arabia.

Saudia Arabia is ruled by a king, currently King Salman bin Abdulaziz; however, power is precarious
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“Saudi Oger’s Saad Hariri, a dual citizen who also happened to be the prime minister of Lebanon, was struggling to keep the cash flowing too. The Oger business was poorly managed, so it had little cushion for a slowdown in payments. Saad desperately tried to win Mohammed bin Salman’s approval, building an extension to King Salman’s expansive seaside palace in Tangier for Mohammed. And when Mohammed suggested he’d like a more direct passageway in the Royal Court to access the foyer of his cousin Mohammed bin Nayef’s section, Saad himself stayed up through the night with workers to cut through marble and concrete to get the job done. Mohammed thanked him but clearly felt no exchange had taken place. Saad hadn’t won any goodwill.” 0 likes
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