In his film Fahrenheit 911, Michael Moore leaves profoundly misleading impressions without actually lying. Unger skillfully illustrates the same technique. Indeed, he makes many of the same ridiculous associations used by Moore. For instance, Unger begins with what seems to be an outrage, namely, that members of the bin Laden and Saudi royal families were allowed to fly out of the United States on special flights in the days immediately after September 11, 2001. Only a careful reading reveals that, in fact, the first such flight (from Lexington, Kentucky) was on September 13, and as Unger writes, "the Federal Aviation Administration had allowed commercial flights to resume on September 13." In other words, the Saudis were given no special privilege. Unger strings together a long series of such misleading stories, implying wrongdoing by the Bush administration or its leading figures without actually providing any evidence of such wrongdoing. For example, an entire chapter is devoted to the scandal-ridden Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI) and its principal shareholder, Saudi national Khalid bin Mahfouz. The continuing theme is that George W. Bush was close to these shady characters, both directly and through Harken, a company on whose board he served. Except, Unger admits in an aside, "Neither George W. Bush nor Harken, it should be said, had any direct contact of any kind with bin Mahfouz or BCCI." In fact, BCCI's principal patron in U.S. political circles was the long-time Democratic Party heavyweight, Clark Clifford.
Unger, less careful even than Moore, on occasion slips into pure fiction. For instance, he writes, "To Americans, the imminent war [in 1991 to liberate Kuwait] had the makings of a patriotic but antiseptic spectacle that carried no more risk than a video game." In fact, the narrow margin of congressional approval for the war was due in no small measure to the expectation of thousands of American dead; indeed, the Pentagon ordered 10,000 extra body bags before the war. But such fiction is not the main problem with Unger's account. More significant is that House of Bush, House of Saud is singularly devoid of any evidence that the Bush family and the Saudi rulers have a particularly close relationship. Each of the last twelve U.S. presidents has cultivated the Saudi royal family. George W. Bush's administration has had serious differences with the Saudis, including over the war with Iraq, and Bush has pushed the Saudis harder about terrorism than any previous president. On a personal and financial level, Unger presents no evidence to support his insinuations of a close relationship. In short, for all the trappings of a scholarly analysis, Unger's account amounts to conspiracy-mongering of the shallowest sort. It is a sad commentary on our times that this book has been a bestseller.