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Suez 1956: The Inside Story of the First Oil War [Paperback]

Barry Turner
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)

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Book Description

14 Jun 2007
In October 1956, Britain, France and Israel launched an attack on Egypt. For each of the contenders there was much more at stake than the future of the Canal. None of the combatants in the Suez campaign emerged in glory which may be why, in recent years, it has been largely relegated to academic studies. But the events surrounding the invasion, while combining the high drama with elements of political farce that make for a compelling story, had a greater impact on world affairs than many more famous conflicts.

Product details

  • Paperback: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton (14 Jun 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0340837691
  • ISBN-13: 978-0340837696
  • Product Dimensions: 3.5 x 12.7 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 658,457 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


Barry Turner's lucid anlaysis . . . offers a fresh, concise, well-argued account, at ease with the complexity of events. He excels at unravelling the duplicitous threads of diplomacy. (The Sunday Times)

'Detailed and timely . . . [a] valuable account of political chicanery' (Scotland on Sunday)

'An exhaustive but excellent account of the intervention....This is narrative history at its sharpest, offering insight and, perhaps, lessons to be learnt.' (Metro)

'Highly professional and very well written' (Times Literary Supplement)

an excellent, straightforward narrative of events (The Spectator)

Book Description

A fascinating new account of the Anglo-French and Israeli invasion of Egypt published to tie in with fiftieth anniversary of Suez crisis

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars suez 21 Nov 2010
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This 470 page tome with 30 pages of notes but with no bibliography is an adequate expose of the 1956 Suez incident.The book is badly presented as the 25 chapters have no headings only numbers so the reader can not judge time, place or incident.
The author has done a good deal of research but there are a number of elementary errors.His conclusion that this was an oil war is more than a little suspect.
The lesson that Britain should have learned from this episode is never trust the Americans.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Last Shout For The Empire 21 Jun 2010
When Gordon Brown was proclaimed to be the worst Prime Minister Britain has ever had, one newspaper columnist suggested that the estate of Anthony Eden should sue. Barry Turner, the author of "Suez 1956", would probably agree.
The Suez Campaign, Operation "Musketeer", was Britain's last imperial war (if you take the Falklands to be a face-saving rescue mission and Iraq and Afghanistan as mere adjuncts to American policy), at a time when Britain was no longer an imperial power but had yet to realise it (and I don't think it has yet fully accepted it). This book does draw very clear parallels between the case against Egypt's seizure of the Suez Canal and the drumbeating some fifty years later regarding Saddam Hussein's "weapons of mass destruction", particularly in that when one excuse for war faltered, another was found to take its' place.
This is a comprehensive account of the Suez crisis and its' origins, starting with Napoleon's dreams of a Mediterranean-Red Sea canal and taking us through the labours of Ferdinand de Lesseps, the arrival of the British and their subsequent policy towards Egypt, and the first big standoff over the Canal - the so-called "abrogation crisis" - between 1951 and 1954, when a certain Mr Anthony Eden, Foreign Secretary, was at the forefront of efforts to negotiate a British withdrawal. Towards Eden, Turner is scathing, portraying him as a vain, arrogant, deceitful, spiteful, vindictive, unhinged creature, corrupted by the power of his office, with his Cabinet almost uniformly - with particular opprobrium going to Eden's Foreign Secretary, Selwyn Lloyd - condemned as spineless little men without the gumption to halt the steamroller to war. In this, Turner nails his colours firmly to the mast: "Musketeer" was a fiasco, militarily as well as politically.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Warnings, Insights and told you so's 1 Jan 2010
I remember when I was kid watching films about wars. Be it films set in the medieval age or more modern settings, I was always given the same impression - that leaders declared war and within hours they had their armies ready for battle. Action was instantanous and the outcome of the battle a foregone conclusion being that the good guys would win.

If that was a childhood impression then Suez 1956 by Barry Turner is a wakeup call, albeit a protracted wakeup call in places. The Suez Crisis was for me always a footnote in school history, merely mentioned occassionally as a reason why Britain and the USA didn't stop the Soviet Union invading Hungary in 1956. Barry Turner work has demonstrated for me what a central event Suez was in 1956. However Turner does not start his narrative in 1956 but in the era of Napolean. In doing so he demonstrates that the Egypt and then its Suez canal had a larger than life presence amongst the powers of Western Europe. He details the construction of the canal, the later involvement of Britain (who snapped up the shares for the bankrupt Egyptian leader) and finally Britain establishing rule in Egypt (albeit through puppet leaders).

Before the author delves into the high politics of the canal we are given a wonderful insight into the psychology of colonial rule. An eyebrow raising moment is when the author describes an enquiry into a collision between a British army vehicle and the car of King Farouk. During the the enquiry a soldier states that he collided with a car containing "two wogs". The officer chairing the enquiry told him to watching his language - the soldier changed his answer to "King Farouk of Egypt and a wog".

Once the author moves beyond World War Two events suddenly accelerate and the author takes off at breakneck speed.
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Format:Kindle Edition
A pageturner, which gives a clear and complete account of what led up to one of the last colonial conflicts of Great Britain. A balanced account, mostly about the politics, because there wasn't much of a war.
As an aside: my thoughts kept returning to Dennis Potter's Lipstick on Your Collar [DVD]. Highly advisable to watch this after reading the book!
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