Author(s): Bradley Hope; Justin Scheck
Thirty-five-year-old Mohammed bin Salman's sudden rise stunned the world. Political and business leaders such as former Prime Minister Tony Blair and WME Chairman Ari Emmanuel flew out to meet with the Crown Prince and came away convinced that his desire to reform the kingdom was sincere. He spoke passionately about bringing women into the workforce and toning down Saudi Arabia's restrictive Islamic law. He lifted the ban on women driving and explored investments in Silicon Valley.
But 'MBS' began to betray an erratic interior beneath the polish laid on by scores of consultants and public relations experts like McKinsey & Company. The allegations of excess and about the brutality of his regime began to slip out. Then there was the assassination of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. While stamping out dissent in the Saudi royal family by holding three hundred members in the Ritz-Carlton Hotel for months, he continued to exhibit his extreme wealth, including the purchase of a $70 million chateau in Europe and one of the world's most expensive yachts.
It seemed that he did not understand nor care about how the outside world would react to his flexing of autocratic muscle. Blood and Oil is a gripping work of investigative journalism about the precipitous ascent of one of the world's most decisive and dangerous new leaders, and the simultaneous fraying Western-Saudi relations. Caught in his net are well-known U.S. bankers, Hollywood figures, and politicians, all eager to help a charming Crown Prince with extraordinary powers, hunger for lucre, a tight relationship with President Trump's son in law Jared Kushner, and an apparent willingness to break anything -and anyone - that gets in the way of his vision.
If his bid fails, Saudi Arabia has the potential to become an unstable failed state and magnet for Islamic extremists. And if his bid to transform his country succeeds, even in part, it will have consequences around the world.