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Empire of Sand: How Britain Shaped the Middle East Hardcover – 4 Aug 2011

5.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Birlinn Ltd; 1st Edition edition (4 Aug. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1843410532
  • ISBN-13: 978-1843410539
  • Product Dimensions: 24.1 x 17.1 x 4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 639,791 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


'[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).

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Words have been written, bombs have been thrown and lives have been and are still being lost about this topic. So, why do we need another book to investigate this ongoing mess: The Middle East? Because truth is getting lost in rhetoric, racism and hatred. Walter Reid's excellent tome comes in to calm the anger and provide a viewpoint on the ongoing conflagration that centres on the land at the Eastern Mediterranean Sea.

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.
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Format: Hardcover
This is an account of the breakup of the remains of the Ottoman empire in the Middle East followiing the defeat of Germanys ally Turkey.
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.
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