Arabian Knight by Thomas W. Lippman

5 August 2008 | 0 comments | Saudi Aramco News | by

Arabian Knight by Thomas W. Lippman

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Now available exclusively from, the long-awaited biography of an extraordinary, but unheralded, Marine officer by one of the nation’s leading experts on the Middle East.

As George Crile used Charlie Wilson to examine CIA involvement in Afghanistan, Tom Lippman has used the astonishing life of Bill Eddy to trace the  rise of  American involvement in the region – from  a handshake between  FDR and Ibn Saud on the deck of  an American cruiser in 1945 to the first Marine landing in Lebanon in 1958, where as one observer noted, “Pepsi and 7-Up umbrellas on the beaches sheltered vendors who prayed that fresh waves of Marines would land.”

Fascinating in its detail and sweeping in its scope, Arabian Knight is the rare book that fuses biography and political history into a compelling and enlightening read. It is the story of a warrior, a scholar, a spymaster and a diplomat. It is the story of Colonel Bill Eddy, a Leatherneck for all seasons.

“I don’t know who he is, but the son of a bitch sure has been shot at enough.”
General George S. Patton upon seeing the medals on Eddy’s uniform in 1943.

American soldiers regroup in a forest in France - 1918
American soldiers regroup in a forest in France – 1918

“The OSS was in a death struggle with the Gestapo, and like Churchill, aligned itself with devils to survive. We deserve to go to hell when we die.”
Colonel William A. Eddy, regarding OSS tactics in North Africa

Eddy, second right, at the victory parade in Algiers, 1942
Eddy, second right, at the victory parade in Algiers, 1942

“Bill Eddy was probably the nearest thing that the United States has had to a Lawrence of Arabia.”
Philip J. Barnum, The Department of State in Middle East.

Eddy at left, translating for Ibn Saud and FDR in 1945
Eddy at left, translating for Ibn Saud and FDR in 1945

About Eddy:

Colonel Bill Eddy knew the Arabs and the Middle East better than any other American of the 20th Century, and the work of his eventful life helped to establish the United States as the dominant strategic power in the region.

Born in Lebanon, he spoke Arabic like a native. He was a Marine Corps hero of World War I, a prominent scholar of classical English literature, a brilliant spymaster in North Africa during the Allied landings there in World War II, and a major player in the Washington power games that led to the creation of the CIA.

He was the impresario of President Franklin Roosevelt’s landmark meeting with King Abdul Aziz of Saudi Arabia in 1945, and his work as the senior U.S. diplomat in Jeddah cemented the improbable alliance of the United States and the Desert Kingdom.

To know his story is to understand why the United States today is an indispensable force in the Arab world—for better or worse.

About Lippman:

Thomas W. Lippman has reported from the Middle East for more than three decades. A former Middle East bureau chief of the Washington Post, he is the author of four previous books about the Arab world, Islam and American foreign policy, and of numerous magazine articles and newspaper columns. A frequent media commentator on Mideast affairs, he has appeared on ABC, PBS, C-SPAN, the BBC and other television and radio networks. He is the principal expert on Saudi Arabia at the Middle East Institute in Washington and is also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

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