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Florence of Arabia

3.59  ·  Rating details ·  2,223 Ratings  ·  239 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.
Jan 17, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 52-in-2009
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
Oct 19, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novel
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
Jul 10, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: contemporary, am-lit
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
Aug 03, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

"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:

Aug 23, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Quick, witty, erudite take on the American relationship with Middle Eastern oil states. The satire gets pretty broad sometimes but I frequently laughed out loud. Would make a fun movie.
Aug 08, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jul 31, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was quite entertaining. It did have several somewhat bawdy moments, probably classifiable as PG13. Its main targets are Muslim fanatics, the CIA, the State Department.
Jun 28, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Highly entertaining political satire.
Lindsay (Santafefan)
Delightful. A comedy that may be uncomfortably close to some tragic truths. Florence gets an assignment to help stabilize a mid-east region by promoting women's rights. I can't imagine how anyone would think that trying to shift mid-eastern mores towards western liberalism would create more stability! Nevertheless the book is a charming, occasionally brutal, thoroughly engaging read. It brought home to me just how complex the forces in mid-eastern oil countries can be. Florence puts together a v ...more
Marieke van der Vaart
With the same cutting satire featured in Thank You for Smoking, Florence of Arabia is a rollicking adventure through Middle Eastern tensions and U.S. interests when an earnest and not entirely-naive CIA analyst heads to Matar to spearhead a women's empowerment movement.

It's funny, it's grim, it doesn't take itself too seriously (except when Buckley goes on tangents to describe exactly how attractive Florence is). It's a surprisingly fun read and an insightful comedy of geopolitical proportions.
Mark Casey
I chuckled pretty much every time I saw mention of the Wasabis.
Julie Hendrix
Jul 05, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
funny, fun to read. topic interests me, even though it's fiction. author has engaging writing style, hard for me to put down.
Ian Wood
Aug 23, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
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
Hannah Cobb
Oct 18, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Fed up with the hands-off approach of the State Department, Florence decides to tackle the Middle East from a new angle: TV shows aimed at liberating women.
I read this one years ago while I was in college, and laughed a lot; when I needed an audiobook to listen to with my sisters on a beach trip this summer, I picked this one. It was definitely a hit. If you like (mostly) light political satire, you can't get better than Christopher Buckley.
What I like: Buckley dives into incredibly heavy, time
Jun 17, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
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
Jun 27, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobooks
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
Jan 23, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A satire with Islamic theocracy at its core is something relevant to the times, and Christopher Buckley spares no one in this novel. The main object of Buckley's sharp wit is indeed religious piety and hypocrisy (and how refreshing to see a writer mock a religion other than Christianity, they all deserve a few potshots now and then) but he also mocks the history that shaped the modern Middle East, the disastrous efforts of the United States to intervene in Middle Eastern affairs, and the CIA, ju ...more
Apr 15, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: no-longer-owned
"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
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
Mar 25, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Sep 26, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: recs
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
Mar 16, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2012
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
Sep 13, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  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
Mar 15, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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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.

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