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Sowing the Wind: The Seeds of Conflict in the Middle East

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The seeds of conflict in the Middle East were sown in the first sixty years of the twentieth century. It was then that the Western powers - Britain, France and the United States - discovered the imperatives for interventions that have plunged the region into crisis ever since. It was also then that most of the region's modern-day states were created and their regimes forge The seeds of conflict in the Middle East were sown in the first sixty years of the twentieth century. It was then that the Western powers - Britain, France and the United States - discovered the imperatives for interventions that have plunged the region into crisis ever since. It was also then that most of the region's modern-day states were created and their regimes forged - their management by the West earned abiding resentment. Sowing the Wind tells of how and why this happened. The subject is painfully and essentially somber, but Scottish historian John Keay illuminates it with lucid analysis and sparkling anecdotes set within a rich and elegant narrative. This is that rarest of works, a history with humor, an epic with attitude, writing that delights. Sowing the Wind examines the critical political underpinnings of conflict in the Middle East. Keay (known for his best-selling history of India) focuses on the hard-core countries of the Middle East known as the fertile crescent: Egypt, Jordan, Israel/Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq. Keay’s account is absolutely riveting as he follows the West’s manipulation, management, and mismanagement of the Middle East from 1900 up through the ascent of Arafat to power in the early 1960s. He ends with a forty-page tour-de-force update of the last forty years of American negotiation of economic and political fault lines in the Middle East. Keay’s sweeping history pre-Balfour to post-Sues unearths a host of surprising firsts, from the Gulf’s first “gusher” to the first aerial assaults on Baghdad, the first of Syria’s innumerable coups, and the first terrorist outrages and suicide bombers. 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, Gourard and Catroux, Wavell and Spears, Eisenhower and Patton - mingle memorably with maverick travelers and femmes both fatales and formidables. Four Roosevelts juggle with the fates of nations. Authors as alien as E.M. Forster and Arthur Koestler add their testimony. Pertinent, scholarly, and irreverent, Sowing the Wind provides a uniquely ambitious and enthralling insight into the making of the world’s most fraught arena.


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The seeds of conflict in the Middle East were sown in the first sixty years of the twentieth century. It was then that the Western powers - Britain, France and the United States - discovered the imperatives for interventions that have plunged the region into crisis ever since. It was also then that most of the region's modern-day states were created and their regimes forge The seeds of conflict in the Middle East were sown in the first sixty years of the twentieth century. It was then that the Western powers - Britain, France and the United States - discovered the imperatives for interventions that have plunged the region into crisis ever since. It was also then that most of the region's modern-day states were created and their regimes forged - their management by the West earned abiding resentment. Sowing the Wind tells of how and why this happened. The subject is painfully and essentially somber, but Scottish historian John Keay illuminates it with lucid analysis and sparkling anecdotes set within a rich and elegant narrative. This is that rarest of works, a history with humor, an epic with attitude, writing that delights. Sowing the Wind examines the critical political underpinnings of conflict in the Middle East. Keay (known for his best-selling history of India) focuses on the hard-core countries of the Middle East known as the fertile crescent: Egypt, Jordan, Israel/Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq. Keay’s account is absolutely riveting as he follows the West’s manipulation, management, and mismanagement of the Middle East from 1900 up through the ascent of Arafat to power in the early 1960s. He ends with a forty-page tour-de-force update of the last forty years of American negotiation of economic and political fault lines in the Middle East. Keay’s sweeping history pre-Balfour to post-Sues unearths a host of surprising firsts, from the Gulf’s first “gusher” to the first aerial assaults on Baghdad, the first of Syria’s innumerable coups, and the first terrorist outrages and suicide bombers. 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, Gourard and Catroux, Wavell and Spears, Eisenhower and Patton - mingle memorably with maverick travelers and femmes both fatales and formidables. Four Roosevelts juggle with the fates of nations. Authors as alien as E.M. Forster and Arthur Koestler add their testimony. Pertinent, scholarly, and irreverent, Sowing the Wind provides a uniquely ambitious and enthralling insight into the making of the world’s most fraught arena.

30 review for Sowing the Wind: The Seeds of Conflict in the Middle East

  1. 5 out of 5

    Dede

    An excellent background book for the history of empire in the middle east. Keay takes up the topic from just before WW I, when the Near East was part of the Ottoman Empire. It starts later than the interests the Russian and German Empire had in what is now Turkey, Azerbaijan, Iraq, and Iran, and takes a view from the British perspective. Egypt was already a British protectorate, and the Suez was the lifeline of Empire. It proceeds to look at WW I, and the angling of the UK and its competition, m An excellent background book for the history of empire in the middle east. Keay takes up the topic from just before WW I, when the Near East was part of the Ottoman Empire. It starts later than the interests the Russian and German Empire had in what is now Turkey, Azerbaijan, Iraq, and Iran, and takes a view from the British perspective. Egypt was already a British protectorate, and the Suez was the lifeline of Empire. It proceeds to look at WW I, and the angling of the UK and its competition, mainly France at that time, in claiming this area. Crucial was the Suez Canal, and nearly all the manoeuvring was initially around securing that, and defensible territory around it. Woven in is Zionism, the new importance of oil (almost all sourced from the USA at this time), and the calculations that lead to the formation of Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, and Transjorden. It explains why they look the way they do, and why they contain diverse and contending peoples, instead of having borders that reflect ethnic divisions. (The reason is, of course, that internal conflict meant that there was a justification for continued presence of the Imperial powers, under the Mandate system under the League of nations). It looks at personalities, and shifts of political realities as the area begin to assert its independence, ant the slow collapse of European empires, and the rise of that of the US. It details the inception of the CIA, and first steps in the early practice of regime change. It's a very valuable book for anyone wanting background in the complexities of the Middle East, and it is narrated in a lively fashion through the twists and turns, people and ideologies of a fascinating region, and one of great importance today.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Quetzaqoatl

  3. 4 out of 5

    Abhilash Prabhakaran

  4. 4 out of 5

    Marina Chernov

  5. 4 out of 5

    Antoon Stessels

  6. 4 out of 5

    Sam Thomas

  7. 4 out of 5

    Mohammed

  8. 4 out of 5

    Prasenjit Basu

  9. 5 out of 5

    Scan

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jitendra

  11. 4 out of 5

    Safia Sharafat

  12. 5 out of 5

    Miloș Dumbraci

  13. 5 out of 5

    Michael

  14. 5 out of 5

    Dave Hastings

  15. 5 out of 5

    Teresa

  16. 4 out of 5

    Why L. Sadeye

  17. 5 out of 5

    Nick

  18. 4 out of 5

    Maggie

  19. 4 out of 5

    Tara Hartford

  20. 4 out of 5

    Ravindra Kr

  21. 4 out of 5

    Allen Samuel

  22. 4 out of 5

    D

  23. 4 out of 5

    Simon Wood

  24. 5 out of 5

    Lee Holden

  25. 5 out of 5

    Deepak

  26. 4 out of 5

    Ahmed Koriem

  27. 4 out of 5

    David Edmonds

  28. 4 out of 5

    Saju Pillai

  29. 4 out of 5

    Andrew Niederhauser

  30. 5 out of 5

    Richard Diamond

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