Crossing the Kingdom – For many people, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia evokes images of deserts, camels, and oil, along with rich sheikh in white robes, oppressed women in black veils, and terrorists. But when Loring Danforth traveled through the country in 2012, he found a world much more complex and inspiring than he could have ever imagined.
With vivid descriptions and moving personal narratives, Danforth takes us across the Kingdom, from the headquarters of Saudi Aramco, the country’s national oil company on the Persian Gulf, to the centuries-old city of Jeddah on the Red Sea coast with its population of undocumented immigrants from all over the Muslim world. He presents detailed portraits of a young woman jailed for protesting the ban on women driving, a Sufi scholar encouraging Muslims and Christians to struggle together with love to know God, and an artist citing the Quran and using metal gears and chains to celebrate the diversity of the pilgrims who come to Mecca.
Crossing the Kingdom paints a lucid portrait of contemporary Saudi culture and the lives of individuals, who like us all grapple with modernity at the dawn of the twenty-first century.
“Readers will learn much about the challenges faced by a generation of young Saudis trying to lead a full life despite social religious and polictical restrictions. . . . Throughout Crossing the Kingdom [Danforth] tries to challenge simplistic interpretations and crude propaganda. The result is a travelogue that is more sophisticated than the perspectives that dominate Western media reporting on the kingdom.Madawi Al Rasheed, London Times Higher Education.
“Danforth provides a superb anthropological analysis of the culture problems the Saudi state has become entangled in.”Roel Meijer, The Middle East Journal.