Service in Iraq a Springboard for Southeast History Professor’s Writing

Saudi Arabia book coverBowen Publishes Second Edition of ‘The History of Saudi Arabia’ 

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo., Feb. 3, 2015 – Dr. Wayne Bowen, chair of the Department of History at Southeast Missouri State University, recently penned a second edition of his book, “The History of Saudi Arabia,” which provides a quick entrée chronicling the kingdom’s intriguing past.

“Given events in Saudi Arabia over the past few years, including the recent death of King Abdullah, the significance of the kingdom as a regional power, economic leviathan in the oil and gas industries, leader among the Arab and Muslim nations, and strategic partner of the United States, makes learning about its history even more important for those interested in our world,” Bowen said.

The first edition of the book was published in 2008. The publisher, ABC-Clio/Greenwood, decided to revise the book in 2014, given events in the kingdom since 2008. Bowen updated the manuscript and added a new chapter that incorporated changes in the last 10 years in Saudi Arabia.

“The Arabs are an ancient people, engaged in many of the world’s most significant civilizations. They are mentioned in the Bible, one served as Roman Emperor, and as a people they created an Islamic Empire that stretched from modern-day Central Asia to Spain. Researching and writing about them was not just an exploration of the re-emergence of a single country, Saudi Arabia, but provided me with a window into the last six thousand years of humanity – and inhumanity – in the Middle East,” Bowen said.

Bowen developed an interest in the Middle East in 2004, when he served in Iraq as a mobilized Army Reservist. His tour was focused in northern Iraq as a civil affairs officer, where he was in charge of higher education and antiquities in the province of Ninewa, also called Nineveh.

“Working to help preserve archeological sites from the Assyrian Empire and other past civilizations was an intense experience, and it was helpful when it came time to write this book,” Bowen said.

Bowen’s main emphasis is Spanish history, but he continues researching and writing about the Middle East. He published another book about the Middle East, “Undoing Saddam: From Occupation to Sovereignty in Northern Iraq,” and articles on the Ottoman Empire.

“This book, along with the others in the series from ABC-CLIO, was designed not as the definitive scholarly history. Instead, my hope is that it will serve as a survey accessible for students of all ages, as well as anyone wanting a quick introduction to a much deeper story,” Bowen said.

The revised edition of the comprehensive survey follows the political, military, religious, economic and diplomatic history of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia from pre-Muhammad times to the present day.

With its huge oil reserves and notoriety regarding human rights issues, Saudi Arabia has long been a country in the global spotlight. The book traces the long history of this desert region, from the times before the creation of Saudi Arabia, to the political activities of the modern Saudi state, to recent developments in Arab and Muslim culture, enabling readers to grasp the country’s key importance in 21st-century global politics.

Bowen provides a comprehensive and accessible overview of Saudi Arabia’s history that makes clear this nation’s political and economic significance as well as its vital role in the history and development of Islam. The second edition includes the most notable events from the past 10 years, such as King Abdullah’s economic reforms after the 2011 Arab Spring protests and the passing of a law allowing women to vote.

Organized chronologically, the revised edition contains updated appendices, an expanded bibliography featuring electronic resources, and new photographs and maps. Other features includes an introductory chapter on Saudi Arabia today, new entries on notable figures and additional chapters on recent events, and makes the subject easy to understand for readers with little background knowledge on the topic through concise, straightforward language.

“The History of Saudi Arabia” is available from ABC-Clio/Greenwood and can be purchased online at In addition, it is available from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and everywhere books are sold.

Wayne H. Bowen

Bowen is professor and chair of the Department of History as well as the director of University Studies at Southeast Missouri State University. His published works include “Spain and the American Civil War” from the University of Missouri Press, Praeger’s “A Military History of Modern Spain: From the Napoleonic Era to the International War on Terror,” coedited with José E. Alvarez, and “Undoing Saddam: From Occupation to Sovereignty in Northern Iraq,” from University of Nebraska/Potomac Books. He received his master’s and doctoral degrees, both in history, from Northwestern University.