The seeds of conflict throughout the Middle East were sown in the first 60 years of the 20th century. It was then that the Western powers - Britain, France and the USA - discovered the imperatives for intervention that have plunged the region into crisis ever since. It was then, too, that most of the region's modern-day states were created and their regimes forged; and then that their management by the West earned abiding resentment.;Sowing the Wind tells of how and why this happened. The subject is painful and essentially sombre, but John Keay illuminates it with lucid analysis and anecdotes. This is that rarest of works, a history with humour, an epic with attitude, a dirge that delights.;Here are unearthed a host of unregarded precedents, from the Gulf's first gusher to the first aerial assault on Baghdad, the first of Syria's innumerable coups, and the first terrorist outrages and suicide bombers. Pre-Balfour to post-Suez, the familiar landmarks loom afresh from the obscure antics of lobbyists and the agonizings of administrations.;Little known figures - junior officers, contractors, explorers, spies - contest the orthodoxies of Arabist giants like T.E. Lawrence, Gertrude Bell, Glubb Pasha and Loy Henderson. The generals - Townshend and Allenby, Gouraud and Catroux, Wavell and Spears, Eisenhower and Patten - mingle memorably with maverick travellers and femmes both fatales and formidables. Four Roosevelts juggle with the fate of nations. Authors as alien as E.M. Forster and Arthur Koestler add their testimony. And in Antonius and Weizmann, the Mufti and Begin, Arab is inexorably juxtaposed with Jew. Pertinent, scholarly and irreverent, Sowing the Wind provides an ambitious insight into the making of the world's most fraught arena.