Get a free audiobook

Black Wave

Saudi Arabia, Iran, and the Forty-Year Rivalry that Unraveled Culture, Religion, and Collective Memory in the Middle East
Written by: Kim Ghattas
Narrated by: Kim Ghattas, Nan McNamara
Length: 16 hrs and 33 mins
Categories: History, World
5 out of 5 stars (17 ratings)

CDN$ 14.95/month after 30 days. Cancel anytime.

Publisher's Summary

Kim Ghattas delivers a gripping account of the largely unexplored story of the rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran, born from the sparks of the 1979 Iranian revolution and fueled by American policy.

With vivid story-telling, extensive historical research and on-the-ground reporting, Ghattas dispels accepted truths about a region she calls home. She explores how Sunni Saudi Arabia and Shia Iran, once allies and twin pillars of US strategy in the region, became mortal enemies after 1979. She shows how they used and distorted religion in a competition that went well beyond geopolitics. Feeding intolerance, suppressing cultural expression, and encouraging sectarian violence from Egypt to Pakistan, the war for cultural supremacy led to Iran's fatwa against author Salman Rushdie, the assassination of countless intellectuals, the birth of groups like Hezbollah in Lebanon, the September 11th terrorist attacks, and the rise of ISIS.

Ghattas also introduces us to a riveting cast of characters whose lives were upended by the geopolitical drama over four decades: from the Pakistani television anchor who defied her country's dictator, to the Egyptian novelist thrown in jail for indecent writings all the way to the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in 2018.

©2020 Kim Ghattas (P)2020 HighBridge, a division of Recorded Books

More from the same

Author:

What members say
Average Customer Ratings
Overall
  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    14
  • 4 Stars
    3
  • 3 Stars
    0
  • 2 Stars
    0
  • 1 Stars
    0
Performance
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    11
  • 4 Stars
    4
  • 3 Stars
    0
  • 2 Stars
    0
  • 1 Stars
    0
Story
  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    13
  • 4 Stars
    3
  • 3 Stars
    0
  • 2 Stars
    0
  • 1 Stars
    0

Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Really eye opening

This book's really ties a lot of history I've read about this region together. Well written, clear, enjoyable, super informative

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Fascinating

Excellent documentation of yhe last 40 years history of the Middle East.
Highly recommended.
Learn about the political games of two religious giants.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

very informative

As an Iranian Canadian I found this book very informative . It peices together many questions I have had in terms of the turmoil between the Countries.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Jared
  • 2020-02-04

Intriguing!!!

I came across this title while listening to an interview of Kim Ghattas on Sirius XM POTUS and was immediately drawn into the subject. I have lived through much of the timeline when a lot of the changes were taking place, but did not really have much in the way of details, understanding of the motivations of the key players or their impact on the region. This book is incredibly comprehensive in laying out the development of the Middle East region and how it became what it is today, and maintains an optimism for the future.

I highly recommend this well thought-out presentation and I will definitely be listening again.

6 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • J.B.
  • 2020-01-30

Sunni Shia Divide and the World Order

Black Wave, Saudi Arabia, Iran, and the Forty-Year Rivalry that Unraveled Culture, Religion, and Collective Memory in the Middle East. Written by Kim Ghattas, and narrated by Kim Ghattas, Nan McNamara. A full-throated history accompanied by an explanation of the underlying theories causing the Sunni - Shia confrontation of Islam and its effect on World Order.

The book lays out the modern history of the initial development of the Sunni – Shia (Saudi-Persian) confrontation the author claims had its present-day origins in the late 1970s. The book, though, is so much better than my simplified statement on the present-day status of the clash. It provides the reader with an analysis of the individual people and their political circumstances that ignited these great theocratic and philosophical arguments and then lays out how those opinions brought about mass movements by large numbers of peoples, as well as the results of those human trends and their effect on World Order. The author goes even further to then explain how the autocratic power brokers took advantage of the trends and came to power and how they held that power; or not. The historic tale reads like a cliff hanger. The book is a page-turner. For example, the manner in which the author Ghattas, demonstrates how the Shia-Alawis axis came into being is both dramatic and serendipitous. Great read; and even better literate study that will provide an understanding of forces emanating from the middle east and effecting World Order.

5 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Matty D
  • 2020-02-18

Unveiling the darkness of the Middle East

I don’t usually call a book “important” but I do feel like the information conveyed throughout Black Wave is essential for modern Americans. I am in my mid 30s, and almost my entire cognitive life, the American military has been campaigning across the Middle East. There have only been a few years of my life that America was not in an open war against Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, or carrying out other missions in Libya, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon or Syria. Despite this ongoing war effort, I had never been able to answer the questions “what are America’s objectives in the Middle East? Who are our allies and enemies? Why?” This book helped to de-shroud some of that mystery and showed me the deeper history and inter-tangled rats-nests that have kept our troops in the region. I am no closer to a solution to the problems there, but I do feel like I understand the situation much better.

As an English-only American, I frequently stumble on stories about the Middle East because some of the names and places seem so foreign that I could never really understand what was happening. This book helped to change that. I am immensely grateful to Kim Ghattas for putting together this essential tome which could help provide clarity for the common man and, hopefully, some people with the powers to fix the situation.


4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • AMASS
  • 2020-02-09

Well researched and entertaining.

Well researched and entertaining. As someone who is from the middle east, specifically Iran, I was familiar with most of the stories, some of them with my sole and flesh. Still interesting to see the perspective of someone with the authur's background.

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Patrick
  • 2020-01-31

Excellent

This was an excellent book on the Middle East and ideological battle between Saudi Arabia and Iran since 1979. The author has an excellent understanding of the area and times. I do think she is too optimistic about the ability of Middle East states to break out of the strong man/dictatorship historical trend of the last couple hundred years. Most of the hopeful individuals she cites at the end of the book are excited, not able to remain in their native countries unfortunately. I look forward to other books by this author.

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Young Professional
  • 2020-05-22

Interesting introduction

I really appreciated the narrative arc that the author wove through the revolutionary time frame to present that she covered. For avid readers on Middle Eastern history, there’s not much new here. However, this would be a great introduction to the region for someone less familiar. I did not really enjoy the narrators reading, it seemed a little clinical, but the story is well told.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • MulliganMusings
  • 2020-04-17

Essential Analysis of Saudi-Iran Rivalry

Kim Ghattas has provided the essential narrative needed to understand the geopolitical landscape of today's rivalry between Iran and Saudi Arabia and its impact on the greater Middle East and world. Ms. Ghattas' years of covering the region, her deep understanding of its dynamics and her skills as a reporter have clearly enabled her to develop an extensive network of contacts which have, in turn, enabled her to provide a deep and thorough overview of the cultural, religious and political events and the ongoing consequences, of those events, that have and continue to shape the region. Anyone, with an interest in the current and evolving state of the Middle East and, particularly the Arabian/Persian Gulf region, would be well served to read this thoroughly well researched and well written account.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • John
  • 2020-03-25

A detailed tour of hell

The book covers, in excruciating detail, the history and notables of the Islamic world from 1979 to the present. The cast of characters is immense, and it's hard to keep track of them.
The author's thesis is that Arab and Muslim societies were relatively pluralistic until 1979, which was the year of the Iranian revolution, a siege at the mosque in Mecca, and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. I find her argument heroic, but not convincing. The author's idea of intellectual diversity seems to be a mix of Muslims and Marxists. What was notably missing from these societies was any tradition of, or advocacy for, liberal democracy. It seems they were a petrei dish providing a rich environment for nihilistic ideas and acts to flourish.
If these societies were so diverse and tolerant, prior to 1979, why did the creation of the tiny state of Israel in 1948 drive them absolutely bonkers? Why were 100 million Arabs freaked out, to the point of madness, by a handful of Jews in their midst? The author does not address this question.
The book, perhaps inevitably, is unrelentingly grim. It's one long train of catastrophes. This is not the author's fault, but it is frankly a strain to maintain ones attention as things go relentlessly from bad to worse. Be forewarned.
The narrator has a nice voice, but she sometimes mispronounces polysyllabic words.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Anonymous User
  • 2020-04-16

Good book, problematic reading

The book itself is a good history lesson for those who don't know much about the region and its political history. It is probably not a good book for scholars and historians (the author more or less states that it is not aimed at a scholarly audience in the introduction). The author's opinion looms a bit too large at times (did she call Khomeini demonic at some point?) But it is a well written and engaging history that most English reading public are not familiar with.

The main issue with this audiobook is the reading. I wish the author had read the book herself, as she did the introduction. I find the reading by Nan McNamara to be frustrating at times, since pronunciations are all over the place and there are many errors that are left uncorrected. Imagine reading a book with a few typos in every chapter. The Arabic pronunciation is typically better than the Farsi or Urdu, but in general pronunciations are pretty bad. And there are some errors which should have been corrected (Harifi? Hariri. Zulqifar? Zulfiqar. Infitada? Intifada... etc.) It makes the book really hard to follow at times. Imagine, for example, someone who doesn't know who Hariri is going to search for Harifi... It is pretty unacceptable that there are so many of these mistakes without editing.

I do recommend the book if you can take the above with a pinch of salt. And perhaps reading the book, rather than audiobook, will be better for some.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Richard Manning
  • 2020-02-07

An important book to read

Excellent. An amazing and important book to read. The author has provided in candid terms what people throughout the world should know and learn about a part of world that is complicated by religion and modernism, the two great forces of our time shown in its extreme

1 person found this helpful