London and the Invention of the Middle East


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Money, Power, and War, 1902-1922

Roger Adelson

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In the first quarter of the twentieth century, the British Government, the banks, and leading individuals in London reached historic decisions that determined the name, shape, nature, and future of the region known as the Middle East. In this fascinating and readable book, Roger Adelson examines who made policy, on what grounds, with what information, and with what results.

The setting for the narrative is London, then the world's greatest metropolis and its financial and political center. Adelson evokes the atmosphere of Whitehall, Fleet Street, the City of London, and Westminster, and paints a vivid portrait of the individuals (Churchill, Lloyd George, Curzon, Cromer, and others) who established the international agenda. Using an extensive range of public and private archives, he identifies issues of money, power, and territorial ambition at the heart of policy, and he describes decisions made in ignorance of and often wholly without reference to local interests.

The book explores and explains British diplomacy both before and after the 1914-1918 War: the protection of the Suez Canal and Persian Gulf; the fear of a German drive to the East and subjugation of the Turks; the discovery of oil; the post-war suppression of nationalist aspirations and the establishment of collaborative regimes more in tune with London than with the Middle East itself. More clearly than any previous work, it identifies the virtual invention of the modern Middle East and the roots of the ethnic and nationalist antagonisms that characterize the region today.

Roger Adelson is professor of history at Arizona State University and editor of The Historian.

"An animated, impeccably argued historical portrait of British colonial misrule in the Middle East. . . . Eloquent testimony to the British government's unprincipled greed and lust for power."—Kirkus Reviews

"The text is enlivened by a remarkable collection of photographs. . . . Adelson is masterful at evoking a sense of place and atmosphere. A good read."—Foreign Affairs

"Students of the colonizer-colonized relationship in the Middle East will be grateful for this important and engagingly written monograph."—Choice

"There is . . . much to enjoy and learn from in London and the Invention of the Middle East."—Christopher Walker, History Today

"The book is lavishly decorated with reproductions of photographs, posters, maps, drawings, and paintings. The author is at home not merely with the personalities who took decisions on the Middle East but also with the architecture of London, the great English country houses, the offices of Whitehall, and the Cabinet rooms where Middle eastern questions were discussed. . . . Roger Adelson has displayed demonstrable proof of his ability to render history meaningful through visual evidence as well as through detailed narrative."—Wm. Roger Louis, Historian

"London and the Invention of the Middle East, lavishly illustrated with contemporary photographs, evokes the mood of a period and the personalities of the leading players, including Balfour, Churchill, Curzon and Cromer."—Ritchie Ovendale, English Historical Review

ISBN: 9780300060942
Publication Date: October 25, 1995
256 pages, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
70 b/w illus.