Desert Diplomat

Desert Diplomat

Inside Saudi Arabia Following 9/11

Robert W. Jordan with Steve Fiffer
Foreword by James A. Baker III

256 pages
21 photographs


July 2015


$32.95 Add to Cart

About the Book

In the spring of 2001, George W. Bush selected Dallas attorney Robert W. Jordan as the ambassador to Saudi Arabia. Jordan’s nomination sped through Congress in the wake of the terrorist attacks on 9/11, and he was at his post by early October, though with no prior diplomatic experience, as Saudi Arabia mandates that the U.S. Ambassador be a political appointee with the ear of the president. Hence Jordan had to learn on the job how to run an embassy, deal with a foreign culture, and protect U.S. interests, all following the most significant terrorist attacks on the United States in history.

From 2001 through 2003, Jordan worked closely with Crown Prince Abdullah and other Saudi leaders on sensitive issues of terrorism and human rights, all the while trying to maintain a positive relationship to ensure their cooperation with the war in Afghanistan and the invasion of Iraq. At the same time he worked with top officials in Washington, including President Bush, Dick Cheney, Colin Powell, Donald Rumsfeld, Condoleezza Rice, George Tenet, and Tommy Franks. Desert Diplomat discusses these relationships as well as the historic decisions of Jordan’s tenure and provides a candid and thoughtful assessment of the sometimes distressing dysfunction in the conduct of American foreign policy, warfare, and intelligence gathering. Still involved in the Middle East, Jordan also offers important insights into the political, economic, and social changes occurring in this critical region, particularly Saudi Arabia.

Author Bio

Robert W. Jordan is Diplomat in Residence and adjunct professor of political science in the John G. Tower Center for Political Studies at Southern Methodist University. He served as the U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia from 2001 to 2003 and as a partner in the international law firm Baker Botts L.L.P. for many years where he headed Middle East practice in Dubai. Steve Fiffer has written for the New York Times and is the author or coauthor of numerous books, including Three Quarters, Two Dimes, and a Nickel: A Memoir of Becoming Whole. James A. Baker III served as the sixty-first U.S. secretary of state.


"Desert Diplomat gives a deep insight into the Saudi-US relations post 9/11. It is a must read for both students and experts of US-Middle East relations. It will also help understand the emerging dynamics in the Middle East after the Iran-US nuclear deal."Washington Book Review

“No Arab ally of the United States is more important or less understood than Saudi Arabia. Robert Jordan went to Riyadh as our ambassador just after the 9/11 attacks when America was asking which side they were on. His unique personal relationships and superb analyses made it clear that the Saudis stood with us, but we also had to understand them. . . . Desert Diplomat tells the story of a critical relationship at a critical time, and how a great diplomat, Robert Jordan, can turn the hinge of history. We are at another turn—may we be as wise as he was in making it.”—Ryan C. Crocker, former deputy assistant secretary of state, 2001–3, and former ambassador to Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan 

“Robert Jordan has written a fascinating and insightful book that provides a rare inside view of Saudi Arabia and the Middle East during the events following 9/11. It is a historically significant work from a seasoned diplomat who draws valuable lessons from his experiences and observations that would be wise for our current and future leaders to heed. Desert Diplomat should be required reading for all those involved in developing our strategy and policy for the Middle East.”—General Anthony C. Zinni (USMC, Ret.), former commander in chief of U.S. Central Command, former special envoy to the Middle East, and author of The Battle for Peace: A Frontline Vision of America’s Power and Purpose

"Jordan invites readers to a front row seat to history through his eyes and in his shoes."—PRWeb

"An up-close and personal glimpse into a tangled situation, sometimes horrendously dysfunctional politics, and the economic and social changes transforming Saudi Arabia at the time, Desert Diplomat is as fascinating as it is illuminating, and highly recommended."—Midwest Book Review

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