The Sacred Sands

A Novel

Fiction - Historical - Event/Era
368 Pages
Reviewed on 12/22/2016
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

Vahan Zanoyan is a writer, traveler, retired executive, and anti-trafficking advocate. He has published two volumes of poetry in Armenian, (2010 and 2011); and three novels in English, A Place Far Away (2013) and The Doves of Ohanavank (2014), both of which were inspired by a chance meeting with a very young victim of sex trafficking, and The Sacred Sands (2016). 

Prior to retiring, Zanoyan served as global energy consultant to numerous international and national oil companies, banks, and other private and public organizations throughout the United States, Europe, the Middle East, the Far East and Latin America. He also served as a senior economic and oil policy advisor to many oil producing governments. He was President and CEO of PFC Energy for ten years, based in Washington, DC; the Chairman and Chief Executive of PFC Energy International, in Lausanne, Switzerland; and the founding Chief Executive Officer of First Energy Bank, based in Bahrain. He has also founded and ran several consulting services at Wharton Econometric Consulting Associates.

Zanoyan was educated at The American University in Beirut and at the University of Pennsylvania. He loves to travel, read, write, drink good wine, and supports several humanitarian causes, primarily aimed at stopping human trafficking and supporting victims of sex trafficking and domestic violence.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Charles Remington for Readers' Favorite

Jim Blackburn is the founder of the Petroleum Consulting Group, a company which advises governments and corporations on the complex machinations of the world’s most traded commodity - oil. The Sacred Sands by Vahan Zanoyan launches us into this fast-moving world, opening with a 1980s OPEC meeting in Vienna and moving quickly to Japan, where the chief executives of all the major Japanese oil companies are meeting to develop a strategy to secure the country’s oil needs and ensure future supplies. Blackburn, who is an expert in the Middle East oil market, is hired to research and advise, and this takes us on an intriguing journey, starting in Washington and including Japan, Kuwait, Austria and Italy, to London, Washington and New York, in a gripping narrative that never fails to deliver on the excitement and capriciousness of the oil business.

Blackburn is a likeable character - he moves in a glamorous world of top-class hotels, superb restaurants and folk who make multi-million dollar deals before lunch without a second thought, but throughout he manages to maintain a clear, analytical eye on his chosen market and a sound commonsense approach to life. The storyline takes us through Japan’s efforts to secure its oil supplies, to the machinations of Middle East oil politics and the players, the Iran–Iraq war, Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait, and the subsequent action by the USA and its allies to drive the Iraqis out. A cleverly constructed plot also manages to interweave Blackburn’s romance with two very different women, and his dealings with the US government and the CIA.

The scope of this novel is breathtaking - there are so many thought-provoking instances, enlightening observations and astute analyses that it is difficult to know where to begin. Let me say this right away, you will enjoy reading this book as a simple thriller. The Sacred Sands is very well written with an intriguing plot that will keep you hooked to the very end. What you will also gain from the book is a clear analysis of the problems in the Middle East, the rise of Islamic Fundamentalism and the way that we in the West view the region, from the pen of someone who has a deep understanding of this area. Vahan Zanoyan is a consummate storyteller and has managed to present an incredibly complex subject in a clear, erudite, and most certainly entertaining way. I urge you to read this book - it is the most accomplished novel I have read this year and I can thoroughly recommend it.