What We Are Reading Today: Ibn Saud

Updated 21 September 2018

What We Are Reading Today: Ibn Saud

  • This book tells the story of how Ibn Saud transformed himself into a revered king and elder statesman
  • This fascinating biography of the founding king of Saudi Arabia is a must-read for anyone interested in the formation of a Kingdom that covers the vast majority of the Arabian Peninsula

Living the harsh traditional life of a desert nomad, and with immense physical courage, Ibn Saud’s often resorted to breathtaking military tactics unlike any employed by empires in the past. 

Thanks to series of astonishing military triumphs over a succession of adversaries who outnumbered his tribal forces, in 1932 he was able to unite the Hejaz and Najd territories into Saudi Arabia.

Written by Michael Darlow and Barbara Bray, this book tells the story of how Ibn Saud transformed himself into a revered king and elder statesman. It describes his building of solid foundational ties with fellow world leaders such as the 32nd US President Franklin D. Roosevelt and the British Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill. 

As Ibn Saud’s tremendous power and influence over the region increased exponentially, instead of using his might to conquer additional territories, Saud instead promoted peace and stability across his newfound Kingdom, establishing the roots for Saudi Arabia as an invaluable player on the world’s political and economic stage.

This fascinating biography of the founding king of Saudi Arabia is a must-read for anyone interested in the formation of a Kingdom that covers the vast majority of the Arabian Peninsula. The text is illuminated by priceless historical photos and extensive footnotes. 

Critics have praised the authors for steering clear of any bias in their pursuit of historical accuracy.


What We Are Reading Today: The Privatized State by Chiara Cordelli

Updated 26 November 2020

What We Are Reading Today: The Privatized State by Chiara Cordelli

Many governmental functions today—from the management of prisons and welfare offices to warfare and financial regulation—are outsourced to private entities. Education and health care are funded in part through private philanthropy rather than taxation. Can a privatized government rule legitimately? The Privatized State argues that it cannot.

In this boldly provocative book, Chiara Cordelli argues that privatization constitutes a regression to a precivil condition—what philosophers centuries ago called “a state of nature.” Developing a compelling case for the democratic state and its administrative apparatus, she shows how privatization reproduces the very same defects that Enlightenment thinkers attributed to the precivil condition, and which only properly constituted political institutions can overcome—defects such as provisional justice, undue dependence, and unfreedom. 

Cordelli advocates for constitutional limits on privatization and a more democratic system of public administration, and lays out the central responsibilities of private actors in contexts where governance is already extensively privatized. 

Charting a way forward, she presents a new conceptual account of political representation and novel philosophical theories of democratic authority and legitimate lawmaking.

The Privatized State shows how privatization undermines the very reason political institutions exist in the first place, and advocates for a new way of administering public affairs that is more democratic and just.