Jordan is a nation that according to some accounts, was "dreamed of from the backseat of Churchill's car." Formerly an Ottoman ruled area, Jordan Stretches from the Syrian Desert in the north to the Gulf of Aqaba in the south. the nation was considered by most to be a backwater inhabited by various Bedouin tribes. It is interesting to note that on Amazon.com I have seen only a few histories of this pivotal nation, when you search for "Jordan" most of the results deal with basketball player Michael Jordan. This book came as a fresh surprise.
After the allied victory in 1918, over the Central Powers (including the Ottoman Empire), Ottoman lands were split up by the victorious French and British. As a result the nation that later became known as Transjordan and later Jordan was administered by British as part of the Mandate of Palestine. Another result of World War 1 was that England's former ally the Sherif of Mecca needed to be rewarded for his assistance. After the French kicked Abdullah out of Damascus, the English had to give him some slice of land, that "slice" was Jordan.
Later in 1922 Jordan gained "independence" from the British Palestine Mandate becoming Transjordan, and achieving full independence in 1946. After the Israeli War of Independence in 1948 Jordan had complete control over the West Bank and the Eastern half of Jerusalem. Later in 1967 Jordan lost control of the West Bank and 3 years later fought a civil war with Palestinians (and Syria).
In the present time Jordan has proved itself to be not just some desert backwater inhabited by warring Bedouin tribes. It has become a geographically strategic nation, bordering Syria, oil rich Saudi Arabia, war torn Iraq, and Israel. This nation has seen a succession moderate kings who have pushed for peace with Israel in addition to a tourist Mecca (with sites like Petra and resorts like Aqaba).
Robins has done quite an exstensive job explaining the many facets of Jordanian culture, history, and politics. From when the Ottomans ruled to the modern era, the author has delved into a wide variety of topics ranging from the influence of Islamists on Jordanian politics, the result of massive influxes of Palestinians (that are now over half of the population), descriptions of leaders ranging from Wasfi Tall to King Abdullah, to how familial and tribal relations still effect the nation.
The book while only about 200 pages long does offer a very exstensive and well written history of this nation. I would recommend this to anyone studying the Middle East. While it is a shame that many books on this small nation have not been forthcomming, this book does a very good job at explaining the nation, its people, and its politics.