At last, a book of substance in English on such a fascinating historical figure. The author was well placed to use the precious Arabic sources and provide us with an Arab viewpoint on crucial events which shaped the Middle East, as well as a refreshing analysis on the relationship between Faisal and the much debated TE Lawrence, revealing the former as a fine leader and diplomat in his own right rather than the latter's pupil. A most impressive and well researched study, which incidentally does not shy from spelling out the possibility that Faisal may have been poisoned, either intentionally or unintentionally.
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Allawi’s biography draws on Arabic, Turkish and Western sources to provide a more rounded prtrait if Faisal and his achievements. Well worth reading. Yale is, however, to be taken to task for its failure properly to proof-read the text - disgraceful from a university press.
Allawi succeeds not just in providing the first English-language biography of the founder of modern Iraq, but also an overdue reassessment of the politics of his father, Sherif Hussein, in what was the single most critical episode in twentieth century Muslim history. 'Faisal I' deploys material from a variety of sources, including many archives and personal diaries hitherto not accessible to an English-reading public, blending analysis with biography. The author has a personal exposure to statecraft at the highest levels, which is reflected in judicious assessments of those thrust with the burdens of leadership.