A Line in the Sand: The Anglo-French Struggle for the Middle East, 1914–1948

James Barr. Norton, $27.95 (352p) ISBN 978-0-393-07065-1
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Toward the end of WWI, as the Ottoman Empire’s collapse seemed imminent, French and British imperial designs turned to the Mideast. The two war allies arrived at a simple solution: the 1916 Sykes-Picot agreement (later supported by the League of Nations), which gave France control of Lebanon and Syria, while the British received Palestine and Transjordan. Between them, the two divided much of Mesopotamia. But during the next three decades, things got more complex. The British endorsed Zionist ambitions in Palestine with the Balfour Declaration; oil was discovered in southern Iraq; and Arab nationalism led to revolts against both France and Britain during the 1920s and ’30s. British historian Barr (Setting the Desert on Fire) shows how the French and British tried to extend their influence, and undermine each other, in part by ingratiating themselves with various Arab and Jewish leaders and factions. Near the end of WWII, Britain’s Lord Moyne favored a “greater Syria” that would comprise Syria, Lebanon, Transjordan, and Palestine. Conversely, after the war ended, members of the French government facilitated arms shipments to factions of the anti-British Zionist revolt. Barr’s extensive archival research, evocative historical vignettes, and a superb sense of narrative pacing produce a first-rate work. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 10/10/2011
Release date: 01/01/2012
Open Ebook - 352 pages - 978-0-393-08296-8
Hardcover - 454 pages - 978-1-84737-453-0
Paperback - 450 pages - 978-0-393-34425-7
Paperback - 454 pages - 978-1-84739-457-6
Ebook - 350 pages - 978-1-84983-903-7
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