The principal author of this book, David Holden, who was the chief foreign correspondent of the Sunday Times, was shot dead in Cairo in November 1977 when he was barely half¬way through the book. To this day the mystery surround¬ing his murder has not been unravelled. His co-author, who completed the book, feels that this summary departure had nothing to do with his researches into the House of Saud and assures us that Holden was not a part of the paranoid world of intel-ligence and subterfuge. But the story of the House of Saud as it unfolds contains so much intrigue and violence that one may be forgiven for doubting this.
The book is essentially a biog¬raphical account of Ibn Saud and his descendants —a canvas broad enough, considering the fecundity of the principal actor. The book is simultane¬ously a history of modern Saudi Arabia, an orientation which is inevitable since the country is essentially a fiefdom of the house of Saud.