House of Bush, house of Saud : the secret relationship between the world's two most powerful dynasties

by Craig Unger

Paperback, 2004




New York : Scribner, 2004.


News breaking and controversial -- an award-winning investigative journalist uncovers the thirty-year relationship between the Bush family and the House of Saud and explains its impact on American foreign policy, business, and national security. House of Bush, House of Saud begins with a politically explosive question: How is it that two days after 9/11, when U.S. air traffic was tightly restricted, 140 Saudis, many immediate kin to Osama Bin Laden, were permitted to leave the country without being questioned by U.S. intelligence? The answer lies in a hidden relationship that began in the 1970s, when the oil-rich House of Saud began courting American politicians in a bid for military protection, influence, and investment opportunity. With the Bush family, the Saudis hit a gusher -- direct access to presidents Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and George W. Bush. To trace the amazing weave of Saud- Bush connections, Unger interviewed three former directors of the CIA, top Saudi and Israeli intelligence officials, and more than one hundred other sources. His access to major players is unparalleled and often exclusive -- including executives at the Carlyle Group, the giant investment firm where the House of Bush and the House of Saud each has a major stake. Like Bob Woodward's The Veil, Unger's House of Bush, House of Saud features unprecedented reportage; like Michael Moore's Dude, Where's My Country? Unger's book offers a political counter-narrative to official explanations; this deeply sourced account has already been cited by Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton and Charles Schumer, and sets 9/11, the two Gulf Wars, and the ongoing Middle East crisis in a new context: What really happened when America's most powerful political family became seduced by its Saudi counterparts?… (more)

User reviews

LibraryThing member Othemts
Here is the damming expose of how business interests of the Bush family, other Republicans and corporatists with the Saudis influence their policy decisions to the detriment of the American people. All the stories have been told before but Unger builds up a good record of evidence over thirty years without wagging an accusatory finger in the manner of Greg Palast. He’s also good at pointing out the disturbing behavior of non-Bushies in regards to the Saudis to offer some balance (ex-Carter National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinzki started the plan to support Afghani Islamists against the Soviets a tact happily embellished by Reagan/Bush – p. 98), and makes it clear when certain claims cannot be substantiated. All very scary stuff, especially since xenophobic America-is-#1 types are ironically very likely to reelect Bush this fall. The most interesting thing I learned in this book is how Bin Laden appealed to the House of Saud to allow him to rally Islamic support and lead the battle to liberate Kuwait from the hated Sadaam Hussein in 1990 (al-Qaeda-Sadaam links indeed!).

“Thanks to such warm relations with the media, Bush repeatedly turned his liabilities into assets. A poor public speaker who made one verbal gaffe after another, Bush played the self-deprecating common man under fire by the know-it-all intellectuals. Intimate with the Wise Men of Washington since childhood, scion to one of the greatest political dynasties in American history, Bush was even able to sell himself as an outsider to power.” (p. 197)

“Few in the United States liked to admit it, but by switching the venue of America’s response to 9/11 to Iraq, the United States may have inadvertently played directly into Al Qaeda’s and Osama bin Laden’s hands. More than twenty years earlier, bin Laden had gone to Afghanistan to lure another superpower into a land war inside a Muslim country. America’s Cold Warriors had cackled with glee when the Soviets took the bait, and the long and brutal war that ensued helped lead to the demise of the Soviet empire. In the mountains of Afghanistan, Osama bin Laden had learned that he and his band of impassioned warriors could defeat a superpower in a guerilla war.” (p. 278)
… (more)
LibraryThing member gmicksmith
The book reveals just how closely the ties are between the U.S. and the Islamic dictatorship of Saudi Arabia. The one key criticism of the work is that Ungar wants to postulate that the connection is between the two houses: Bush and Saud. He is incorrect on this point. The intimate relationship is between the interests of the respective countries. It will matter little who is in the White House unless U.S. energy policy changes significantly. Most likely the Saudis will continue to drain the resources of the U.S. to do their bidding.… (more)
LibraryThing member pussreboots
This book both frightens and angers me. It also has further inspired me to watch the current Bush and do everything in my power to make sure that no further Bushes or friends of Bush win the presidency. The family is power hungry, greedy, and dangerous.
LibraryThing member justindtapp
A good book about the relationship between many high-ups in the Republican party and the royal family of Saudi Arabia and the Bin Laden family who own a large construction company. An unexpected star in the book is actually Bluegrass Airport. On 9/11 many rich Saudis, members of the royal family, Bin Laden's family, etc. were in Lexington, KY buying horses. While the rest of national airspace was closed, someone high up in the U.S. gov't authorized the evacuation of Saudis from around the country. They flew first to Lexington, then got on a big 747 and flew away, eventually to Saudi Arabia. Some of these folks would have been worth interrogating, particularly those related to Bin Laden, and others who had ties to the bombers.

The book is sad because it shows how we're so tied into Saudi Arabia that we'll never be able to fully fight terrorism (see my previous posts on this subject).
… (more)


Local notes

inscribed by author


Page: 0.2129 seconds