In 1964 Faisal bin Abdul Aziz became king of a country holding a quarter of the world's oil reserves, also home to Mecca and Medina. He was called 'the most powerful Arab ruler in centuries'. Eleven years later, in front of television cameras, his nephew shot him in the head at point-blank range. Alexei Vassiliev tells the story of a pious, cautious and resolute leader who steered Saudi Arabia through a minefield of domestic problems, inter-Arab relations, and the decline of Soviet influence in the Middle East. King Faisal maintained ties with both Egypt and the US through two Arab - Israeli wars and the 1973 Arab oil embargo. Throughout, he staked high hopes on cooperation with the US, a relationship that is still vital to both countries' interests.