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MBS: The Rise to Power of Mohammed bin Salman

4.14  ·  Rating details ·  1,840 ratings  ·  214 reviews
MBS is the untold story of how a mysterious young prince emerged from Saudi Arabia’s sprawling royal family to overhaul the economy and society of the richest country in the Middle East—and gather as much power as possible into his own hands. Since his father, King Salman, ascended to the throne in 2015, Mohammed bin Salman has leveraged his influence to restructure the ki ...more
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published March 10th 2020 by Tim Duggan Books
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Average rating 4.14  · 
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 ·  1,840 ratings  ·  214 reviews

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Sep 15, 2020 rated it did not like it
Louse. He should be squeezed between two thumbnails..and splattered.
He is he lowest of lows. Promising much to many, yet he still wields a strong fist.
Also, while M.B.S. Promises much, he gives little to his people. If the U.S. Government is taken in, then that's because those at the top are The fucktard we expect.
I expect the State's to eventually learn a hard lesson. Whether it's Democrat or Republican. They've both danced with the devil!
Mikey B.
Page 19 (my book)

Saudi Arabia was a black hole, its murky politics dominated by men in identical white robes with seemingly interchangeable names, its society opaque, reduced in most writing to generalities about the birthplace of Islam and outrage over the treatment of women.

This book examines the rise to power of MBS (Mohammed bin Salman) as the new ruler of Saudi Arabia. The author speaks Arabic and has spent time in Saudi Arabia during the last decade observing the drastic changes brought ab
Brandon Forsyth
Mar 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
I tore through this book in two days, utterly compelled by Ben Hubbard’s reporting on Saudi Arabia’s up-and-coming crown prince. The core of this book is obsessed with the question of how to document someone’s life and ideology when that person has exercised great control over any detail of their story, where access is limited, and no one has anything to gain by telling outsiders the truth. Hubbard’s solution is to document the place as much as the person, and this leads to a somewhat-unsatisfyi ...more
Suppose King Salman, King of Saudi Arabia and Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, were to pass away tomorrow, September 15th, 2020. His son, the Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman (hereafter MBS) would become one of the world's youngest heads of state. Just older than the Prime Minister of Finland, just younger than Kim Jong-un.

There is little in terms of shocking revelations or uncovering something completely unknown. What this biography does is provide a more thorough backing to what has been at
Jul 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Audible Audiobook – Unabridged
Ben Hubbard (Author), Robert Petkoff (Narrator), Random House Audio (Publisher)

Apr 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I'm currently reading through this book for the 3rd time...

The first time I raced through it because it is fascinating and well written.

The 2nd time I read it, I wanted to be fair in my assessment of the facts presented, regarding the Prince, his nation and the murder of Jamal Khashoggi.

My present reading, is looking at it through the lens of current, rapidly changing, events, i.e. imprisonment of family members, the oil situation with Russia, etc.

The Prince is a fascinating young man who rapidl
Dec 30, 2020 rated it really liked it
MBS: The Rise to Power of Mohammed bin Salman, by Ben Hubbard, is a fascinating book on the political rise of the current Saudi Arabian crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, or MBS as he is often called. MBS was born to the long time governor of Riyadh province Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud. Salman senior was a son King Abdulaziz, MBS' grandfather, who had three sons ahead of him in line for the throne. Salman senior became an adept governor of Riyadh, known for his knowledge of tribal customs and h ...more
Miebara Jato
Mar 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
The people of Saudi Arabia have two choices: They are either for the government or they are for the government. There's no room for dissent. And the country's de facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, popularly known with the moniker MBS, had done some mean stuff to silence real and perceived critics and opponents.

He locked his mother away for months, detained dozens of royal relatives, kidnapped the president of a sovereign nation, ordered the gruesome murder of a dissident journalist,

My first thought, upon seeing this biography, was “what’s the point in writing a biography of a dude in his 30’s? Then, the more I thought about who MBS is, and all the events that have circled around this dude, the more I realized that there might be a huge point, and it might be very worth reading… so I bought it.

And I couldn’t put it down.

I couldn’t stop thinking about it.

It is that good.

Now, first you have to understand that Hubbard has had one hell
Mar 13, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's more of a history of the Al-Saud family and the historical basis for the current Saudi state than an insightful profile of MBS. But still an interesting read for those interested in the politics of the middle east region. ...more
Mar 22, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: world-affairs
Halfway through this I started thinking how MBS is such a complicated character. By the end, I decided he probably isn't that complicated. He's a dictator who acts mostly out of self interest. But there are some aspects of him that don't fit the typical mold of a totalitarian.

On the one hand he's a reformer who has allowed women the right to drive and to get a passport to travel outside Saudi Arabia. He's limited the previously vast influence of clerics, attacking extremism and ultra conservati
Tariq Mahmood
Jul 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I was absolutely engrossed in this very journalistic impressions of MBS over the authors years of contacts on SA, like a true journalist he never presented any his own theories and deductions rather simply left the reader to make his own conclusions instead. The result is brilliant, we have a solid understanding of MBS within the Saudi context, we also have a general idea of what the rest of the world have to work with for the next 40 odd years of the an expected MBS rule, but most importantly, ...more
Aug 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I’m glad I read this biography but this man is a murderer and he needs to be prosecuted as such. It’s well know he ordered the murder of Jamal khashoggi, an American resident was very careful not to write negative things about his birth country but encouraged by MBS’s comments in early articles, he dated to write about his hopes for SA in the future. MBS apparently took this as criticism and led to his eventual murder. MBS was slated to become Crown Prince but his uncle died and left his father ...more
Jan 25, 2021 rated it liked it
For someone with no knowledge of MBS this would be a pretty good place to start. For me, most of this information was a re-hash of things I has read or seen already.

Steven Z.
Sep 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
Who is Mohammed bin Salman, aka MBS? Is he a young visionary reformer that he purported to be when he first came on the scene; the man who most probably ordered the death of Washington Post reporter, Jamal Khashoggi; or a rising dictator whose lack of experience has led to rash decisions like the war in Yemen which has greatly contributed to the destabilization of the volatile Middle East. In Ben Hubbard’s new book MBS: THE RISE TO POWER OF MOHAMMED BIN SALMAN, we are treated to a deep dive into ...more
May 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this one. Author Ben Hubbard writes with an easy style, that doesn't struggle to hold the reader's attention.
The book covers a bit of Saudi history, the life of Mohammed bin Salman (MBS), as well as some of his immediate family, his rise to power, and his reforms.
"MBS" also talks a lot about Jamal Khashoggi; giving the reader a bit of relevant backstory. It chronicles a bit of his life and details the events that led up to his eventual killing at the embassy in Turkey.
The book
Jonathan Mckay
28th book of 2020. MBS is a reasonable way to catch up on the last 10 years of Saudi politics.

I've stayed relatively unplugged from Saudi politics since the time I lived there in 2009, and wow! so much has happened since then. A reverse caper in the Ritz carlton where the prince was able to take back $100 billion, a leader from the new generation upending what was coming up on 100 years of family tradition, these sorts of stories are where Game of Thrones gets its source material. The book star
Ashfaq Farooqui
Jun 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
The story about the rise of the young Machiavellian crown prince of Saudi Arabia. The book sheds light on the young prince and his quest to transform Saudi Arabia. Ben Hubbard, writing in a captivating style, sheds light on the politics and policies, from lifting the driving ban and trying to break the shackles of conservatism, to the murder of Jamal Khashoggi.
Rick Wilson
Jul 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
A very interesting biopic about the current crown prince of Saudi Arabia. If money is power, then MBS is possibly the most powerful person in the world. This book examines, him, his family and presents a lot of information surrounding what is typically an opaque guy.
StationWagon Stripes
Jun 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this book. It is not really a biography of Mohammed Bin Salman (MBS) as he is so young and little is known about him, but it does give a nice overview of his life so far and some insight into the way he rules the Saudi Kingdom. I knew very little about him before I started reading this, other than that he is young. It fascinated me to discover how far-reaching the Saudi Royal family is, not to mention how wealthy!
MBS's rise to power is an incredible feat and one which could not
Trump asked them, you know, what's the deal with this bone saw? You know, I've been in some tough negotiations in my life, but I've never needed a bone saw.

In this excellent portrait of contemporary Saudi society, Ben Hubbard, a New York Times Middle East correspondent explains the origins of the house of Saud, Wahhabism, and Mohammed Bin Salman (or Mo, as Jared Kushner, America's own crown prince, calls him as they conduct diplomacy to find put out fires in the Gulf over WhatsApp). MBS is a
Emilya Burd
Jul 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Saudi Arabia is always in the news-and this book details the rise of what has occurred in the last few years, through the current rise of the prince, Mohammad bin Salman, famously responsible for two things: Lifting the Saudi women drive ban, and the killing (either directly or "indirectly"), of the famous journalist, Jamal Khashoggi. This book gives more context to what has occurred around it, and how Saudi Arabia has changed in the last few years. This book also speaks a lot to foreign policy ...more
Lila M.
Jan 24, 2021 rated it really liked it
It wouldn’t be a NYT production without a few typos and other mistakes but overall fascinating account of MBS greatest hit scandals/exploits
Jun 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
How did the sixth son of the twenty-fifth son of the founding dynast of Saudi Arabia manage to secure himself the overall leadership of the most medieval government on earth? The thesis Hubbard proposes is that while MBS's undubitably Machiavellian ruthlessness was presumably a necessary condition, the decisive factor was also MBS's deeply Saudi (as opposed to internationalist) upbringing. While MBS clearly grew up with royal privilege, his was not a world of jet-setting to the Riviera, degrees ...more
Andrew Helms
Apr 06, 2020 rated it liked it
Overall a well-written biography. I would have liked to see a lot more information that was not just common knowledge from the news.
Apr 17, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The author certainly had an agenda.

This book can be divided up into three categories MSB, Jamal Khashoggi and the last 30 years of Saudi history.

The author paints MBS as a narcissist, power hungry and vengeful. I have read other articles describing him as rooting out corruption, modernizing Saudi Arabia and fighting radical Islam. I think the truth lies in the middle.

The author sees Jamal Khashoggi as an innocent victim that can do no wrong. Nothing could be further from the truth. He hated both
An enjoyable and easy read. The detail on MBS himself was very thin and I would say this book was actually just an overview of present day Saudi Arabia. I understand that the prince's life is kept under wraps and there is little known about him publicly. However I still expected to learn a little bit more about him. Everything I read in the book I have read elsewhere online. In fact I found there was more in this book about Jamal Khashoggi than MBS. Of course what happened to Jamal is tragic and ...more
Aug 26, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: history
I was excited coming into this book, because I knew very little about MBS. Apparently for good reason! What I got out of this book is that nobody knows anything. That was disappointing. On the other hand, Hubbard does provide a good summary of recent history in Saudi Arabia. There's nothing new here, but it was nice to read it all in one place, versus scattered across newspaper articles. I did feel that the presentation was very biased, from an American perspective of Saudi Arabia. This was espe ...more
Harini Dedhia
Ben Hubbard's biography on MBS feels a bit too premature. While the text is littered with interesting anecdotes, it reads more as a scattered collection of articles rather than a well edited, single novel developing many facets of a character. The book, expectedly, spends a lot of time on the Khashoggi murder and in that does a better job of building Khashoggi's narrative rather than that of the young prince. As the book keeps coming back to Khashoggi, MBS' characterisation gets a bit repetitive ...more
Dylan Groves
exactly what it promises, which is not that more than long-form / regular news reading / Wikipedia deep dives on the relevant characters except that it puts everything one place and the audio is well-done.
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Ben Hubbard has spent more than a dozen years in the Middle East, reporting from Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Yemen, Saudi Arabia and elsewhere. He is the currently the Beirut bureau chief for The New York Times.

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