Black Wave

By Kim Ghattas,

Book cover of Black Wave: Saudi Arabia, Iran, and the Forty-Year Rivalry That Unraveled Culture, Religion, and Collective Memory in the Middle East

Book description

'Blistering' Sunday Times
'Indispensable' Observer
'Fascinating' The Times
'Brilliant' Peter Frankopan
'Revelatory' Lindsey Hilsum

A timely and unprecedented examination of how the modern Middle East unravelled, and why it started with the pivotal year of 1979. Shortlisted for the Cundhill History Prize 2020

'What happened to us?'

For decades, the…

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Why read it?

2 authors picked Black Wave as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

I’m going to be sneaky here and wedge two books in for the price of one. Kim Ghattas’ Black Wave is a beautifully written and reported, intimate history of the destructive ideological rivalry between Sunni Saudi Arabia and Shia Iran, a rivalry fuelled by the “tilt” policy of the Ronald Reagan administration that pitted the former allies against each other in an effort to keep them both weak (and unlikely to lead OPEC to attack the West again as they did in 1973). Ghattas, a Beiruti journalist who was friends with Jamal Khashoggi, grounds her history of the devastating cultural…

Kim is a brilliant Lebanese journalist who set out to explain how 1979 was a pivotal year in the Middle East with the Islamic revolution in Iran, the siege of Mecca, the Russian invasion of Afghanistan, and Saddam becoming President of Iraq – and how it led to increasing fundamentalism, the decline of cosmopolitanism, and the suppression of cultural expression. It’s a fantastic book.

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