Cold War in the Islamic World: Saudi Arabia, Iran and the Struggle for Supremacy, Hiro, Dilip. London: C. Hurst & Co. Ltd, 2018, 460.


The Middle Eastern region challenges simple depictions and the difficulties that exist here are, in fact, susceptible to simple solutions. The reader comes away from this book with an elevated sense for the complications underlying the politics in the Islamic world – a domain where geopolitics and religion decussate in competition for power among various regimes. The former American President, Richard Nixon, once said, “The Cold War isn’t thawing; it is burning with a deadly heat.” While he was describing the relationship between the US and the former Soviet Union (USSR), given present times, the statement can aptly describe the rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

The author makes all efforts in this narration of the Middle Eastern conflicts revolving around the Saudi-Iranian strife. In his most recent book, Dilip Hiro offers a rich examination of the hostility between Saudi Arabia and Iran, which dates back to the early twentieth century. In the sixteen chapters, he chronicles the lineage of the rivalry and highlights the key moments in almost a century of animosity. It is teeming with rich historical accounts, packed with anecdotes. In the epilogue, the author talks about recent regional events circa 2018, including the intricacies of America’s relations with the Saudi Kingdom, Iran and Israel under President Trump. In the remaining fifteen chapters, the book offers a thorough outline of the orbits of Iran and Saudi Arabia relationship as well as the Shia and Sunni vertexes of the cold war in the Islamic world.

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