The Ottoman Endgame: War, Revolution, and the Making of the Modern Middle East, 1908–1923

Sean McMeekin. Penguin Press, $35 (576) ISBN 978-1-59420-532-3
In this magisterial history, McMeekin (July 1914), a prolific military historian at Bard College, recounts the epochal social, political, and demographic transformations unfolding across the Middle East in the run-up to and aftermath of WWI. Giving events in the Ottoman theater the same attention to detail usually reserved for the Western front, McMeekin argues that principals on all sides were stymied by myopic preconceptions as the war gained steam, with movements on the ground easily overcoming any pretense of rational planning. For example, of the disastrous Dardanelles Campaign, he writes, “Churchill’s notion that enemy morale was about to crack... flies so powerfully in the face of logic that it is remarkable historians have ever given it credence.” Meanwhile, Russian czars’ centuries-old coveting of Constantinople, a powerful driver of the conflict, was nullified in an instant by a revolutionary Russia that abjured adventurism abroad: “Of all the deathbed miracles that had saved the Ottoman Empire in the modern era, Lenin’s revolution was surely the greatest.” McMeekin’s gripping narrative style and literary panache make this work an attractive resource for anyone looking to further understand the destruction and dislocation in Asia Minor that ushered in the modern age. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 09/14/2015
Release date: 10/13/2015
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 576 pages - 978-0-14-310980-8
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