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Enemy on the Euphrates: The British Occupation of Iraq and the Great Arab Revolt 1914-1921 Hardcover – Illustrated, 12 May 2014

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 471 pages
  • Publisher: Saqi Books (12 May 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0863567622
  • ISBN-13: 978-0863567629
  • Product Dimensions: 16.5 x 4 x 24.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 134,935 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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'Ian Rutledge's brilliant book reveals the folly and delusion of invading Iraq. Read it and shudder.' Nicholas Rankin, author of Churchill's Wizards: The British Genius for Deception 1914-1945

'Material with acute relevance to the crisis now tearing Iraq to pieces' Robert Fisk, Independent

Readers will find plenty of food for thought in Ian Rutledge s well-crafted and lively account ... While offering abundant detail on military operations, lines of communications and warfare tactics, Enemy on the Euphrates also makes for a very lively and human-centred read of imperial history. Populated by a remarkable crowd of spies, diplomats, soldiers, clerics and tribal leaders, Rutledge s account displays almost a novelist s taste for intrigue, espionage, gunboat diplomacy, personal hardship and murder. BBC History Magazine

An excellently produced book that admirably succeeds in illuminating an important episode in British imperial history History Today

'The description of the military campaign is masterful ... maintains a high level of suspense' Peter Sluglett, author of Britain in Iraq: Contriving King and Country

'This gripping narrative brings to life the human side of these violent events through vivid descriptions and anecdotes.' Charles Tripp, author of The Power and the People: Paths of Resistance in the Middle East

'[A] rare treasure that combines a fascinating account of important historical events with penetrating analysis. Anyone seeking an understanding of the role of oil in shaping modern Middle Eastern history will want to read this book.' Michael Klare, author of The Race for What's Left: The Global Scramble for the World's Last Resources

'Sobering, thoughtful, brilliantly-written ... excellent' The Long, Long Trail: The British Army in the Great War of 1914-1918

'Much of Enemy on the Euphrates reads like a great adventure story, proving how fascinating real history can be ... a rare combination of in-depth information, fairness of analysis and readability, reinforced by excellent maps.' --Jordan Times

A very useful contribution to the understanding of modern Iraq' Middle East Media and Book Reviews Online 'Timely ... rich in detail ... highly readable, lively and dramatic. [Rutledge] presents fascinating accounts of the main British and Iraqi personalities involved in the narrative and the conflicts that sometimes erupted between them.' --al-Hayat

'Rutledge does an excellent job of conveying the logistical difficulties confronting any military leadership, let alone one operating thousands of miles from home and in physically challenging and hostile enemy territory ... an easy and enjoyable read ... deserving of a wide readership' --Eamonn Gearon, Middle East Journal

''Much of Enemy on the Euphrates reads like a great adventure story, proving how fascinating real history can be ... The unique contribution of the author, historian and economist Ian Rutledge is bringing to light the character and activities of a group of Arab heroes virtually unknown in the West. ... Rutledge s narrative is highly visual, transporting the reader from the battlefield to Baghdad, villages along the Euphrates, and conference rooms in London and Cairo where diplomats, politicians, military commanders and intelligence officers debate various models for controlling the region all short of full independence. ... Enemy on the Euphrates is a rare combination of in-depth information, fairness of analysis and readability, reinforced by excellent maps.' --Jordan Times

'Rutledge gives us a well-researched and well-written account of the rebellion and the consequent establishment of Iraq. He clearly describes British policy, gives a realistic picture of the local Iraqi scene, and altogether produces a readable, interesting and very useful contribution to the understanding of modern Iraq.' --Middle East Media and Book Reviews Online (Volume: 2 Issue: 5; May 2014)

About the Author

Ian Rutledge is an economist and historian. A graduate of the University of Cambridge where he received his PhD in Economic History, Rutledge is Research Director and Co-Founder of the Sheffield Energy Resources Information Services (SERIS). He has taught at the universities of London and Sheffield and for the Workers Educational Association (WEA). His other publications include Addicted to Oil: America s Relentless Drive for Energy Security. He lives in Chesterfield, Derbyshire.

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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Chris Baker VINE VOICE on 5 May 2014
Format: Hardcover
It’s been a long time since I read any piece of literature relating to the Great War that is as eye-opening, fascinating and well written as this. “Enemy on the Euphrates” covers British involvement in the Mesopotamia campaign of 1914-1918 and the events of national and Muslim rebellion and revolt that followed it in the period 1918-1921. The fighting here and the British response to the revolt explains much that resonates down to our modern age.

The Great War did not end on 11 November 1918. In many places, military conflict carried on. The British government found itself with even greater military commitments than it had before the war began in 1914, with large forces being deployed in Germany, Ireland, Russia, India and in the new ‘mandates’ of Palestine and Iraq. Faced with the need to demobilise and get the economy working again, the government tempted men to re-enlist by offering financial incentives. Many of them were sent to join these forces of occupation, and many found themselves in dangerous and hostile places. The situation in Iraq is possibly the least-known and least-understood of all, and Ian Rutledge’s book does much to fill this most important gap. The force in Iraq came close to total defeat, and suffered many losses and humiliations before it was strengthened. The Arab revolt was eventually put down and British repression of the remote areas of northern Iraq, bordering Syria and Persia, continued for many years afterwards.

But why were the British interested in this area at all? Oil. Discoveries of large oilfields in the north of Iraq had been made before the war, particularly in the Mosul area, adding to the fields near Basra that were already in British hands by 1914.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 6 reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Solid Five Star Narrative with New Perspectives on Events 15 July 2014
By Writing Historian - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I was very impressed with this book as the author successfully managed to write a well-researched book in such a manner as to appeal to a wide variety of readers. Of note is the fact that the author learned Arabic so he could give the Iraqi version of events. I also highly recommend his writing style as it features accessible prose coupled with a unique ability to aid the reader with visualizing events. This book far surpasses previous fare such as Haldane's "The Insurrection in Mesopotamia."

Haldane's account cannot (because he wrote soon after events) put these events in proper perspective. This was the largest armed rebellion that the British faced in the twentieth century, far eclipsing the Kenyan Mau Mau rebellion of 1952 - 56; Irish War of Independence 1919 - 21; Palestinian Insurrection of 1936 - 39; the Communist Uprising in Malaya 1948 - 1960, or the Cyprus Emergency of the 1950s. At the height of the 1920 Rebellion, the British estimated there were 131,000 Arabs in arms against them. Indeed, the Iraqis mobilized such a large amount of men and resources against the British that they almost achieved victory.

I was amazed to discover that my "received wisdom" e.g. the Sunnis were the ones comprising the ranks of the rebellious (and supporting the Ottoman Army during WW1) was somewhat off base. Rutledge points out that the Shia tribes in south-Central Iraq were the implacable foes of the British, beginning with the Jihad that was declared when Anglo-Indian forces first landed in Iraq in December 1914. The Sunnis were handed the reins of governance, according to the British definition of indigenous governance, following the rebellion in large part because they had not proven as troublesome as the Shia.

The book is organized into two parts, with part one (chapters 1 - 20 dealing with strategic overview and pre-1920 events with emphasis on World War One) running from page 5 to page 236 and part two (chapters 21 to 34 which deals with the rebellion itself) spanning pages 237 to 394. The main body of the book is preceded by a list of illustrations, a list of maps, notes on Arabic transliteration, Glossary, Abbreviations, Preface and a series of thumbnail biographies of key players. An afterward, bibliographical notes, acknowledgements, notes, bibliography, and index follow.

In summary, Rutledge has produced an excellent and readable account that merits being considered as the "new" standard reference on the Iraqi Rebellion of 1920.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
"Material with acute relevance to the crisis now tearing Iraq to pieces" 20 Aug 2014
By Chris Ziesler - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I chanced upon mention of this book while I was reading an article by Robert Fisk in The Independent discussing the situation in Syria and Iraq in early June 2014.

Fisk observed: "Rutledge has researched Britain’s concern about Shia power in southern Iraq – where Basra’s oil lies – material with acute relevance to the crisis now tearing Iraq to pieces."

As the activities of ISIS have escalated and their rule has spread throughout Syria and Iraq a thorough understanding of the background to the situation in the region sheds vital light on current events.

Rutledge's book provides an excellent history of the region in the aftermath of the Sykes-Picot agreement at two levels: first of all he gives a thorough narrative of the causes and the course of the Arab Revolt against the British rule in Iraq in 1920. As he points out: "Indeed, the insurrection in Iraq of 1920, measured in enemy combatant numbers, was the most serious armed uprising against British rule in the twentieth century. At the height of the rebellion the British estimated that around 131,000 Arabs were in arms against them."

Secondly, he provides a great deal of detail about the patchwork of tribal and religious groupings and loyalties that covered the region at the time, many of which persist to this day. He spends considerable effort explaining the motivations and aims of the insurrection, and makes it clear that it was well-organized and well-led and its successes were a deep cause of embarrassment to Britain, the world superpower of the day.

Rutledge's style is accessible and incisive without ever stooping to sensationalism. His grasp and analysis of the complexities of the situation is excellent. I would recommend this book for anyone interested in the Middle East or simply in the limits and dangers of applying overwhelming military power to situations that call for a political solution.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
All happened for oil 7 Sep 2014
By Gabor Paller - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I enjoyed this book thoroughly. For me the most relevant "aha" moment was how the performance of warships and transport vehicles depended on oil and how strongly the need for oil decided the fate of "Mesopotamia". Definitely a book to recommend.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
An excellent book that reflects that things have not changed in ... 8 Sep 2014
By St. Clair Strong - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
An excellent book that reflects that things have not changed in Iraq in the last 100 years. It's unfortunate that
this was not available for the government before we got entangled in the country
Four Stars 11 Nov 2014
By kate berberick - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
good book, really helps a person understood the roots of our modern conflict with the middle east.
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