Empire of Sand: How Britain Shaped the Middle East Hardcover – 4 Aug 2011
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'[An] impeccably researched book' --The Herald
'Structured in an accessible and intelligent way [. . .] Empire of Sand is a useful, meticulously written introduction to a complex history, of direct relevance to our own times [. . .] well researched, well planned, and overall a useful addition to the literature on this subject' --Journal of Israeli Foreign Affairs
'Extremely well written and enjoyable to read' --European Review of History
About the Author
Walter Reid studied at the universities of Oxford and Edinburgh, and has written a number of highly acclaimed works of military history: Arras, 1917 (new edn. Birlinn 2011), Architect of Victory: Douglas Haig (Birlinn 2006) and Churchill 1940 -1945: Under Friendly Fire (Birlinn, 2008).
Top Customer Reviews
It is viewpointed on the British. I would take one small issue with the title, 'How Britain made the Middle East'. This would imply that it was 'them wot did it' (them being, ahem, us!) But the book makes clear that it was Britain, France, Turkey, Germany, America and Russia that carved up the dead Ottoman Empire and created the straight lines on the sand and the no-man's-lands that now make up the countries and lands of the region.
Here are some issues Reid brings out clearly:
Oil was not a major factor at the time (between the two world wars), even though the British recognised this, possibly, first, as a future issue. The hostility between Jews and Arabs was not inevitable, indeed Jews made up, perhaps, over half of the population of Baghdad at 1900. He emphasises that all parties involved must take responsibility for their own actions. For example, neither the Arabs nor the jews made any serious effort to make the Palestine Mandate experiment work. The Arabs stood aside, not participating, trying to sabotage. The Jews purported to cooperate but worked all the time to move thigns to their advantage and marginalise the Arabs.Read more ›
Basically the area was carved up by the British and French with no reguard to racial or social consequences. Egyptt,Persia,Syria,Jordan,Iraq and Palestine were all created but of necessity the whole structure ended with the withdrawal of Britain from Palestine in 1948.
Very well written and researched with good maps. The illustrations are good considering their age.
A first class read.