Nate Cooley's Reviews > A Peace to End All Peace: The Fall of the Ottoman Empire and the Creation of the Modern Middle East

A Peace to End All Peace by David Fromkin
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's review
Feb 07, 2008

really liked it
bookshelves: books-i-read-in-2007
Read in August, 2006

David Fromkin's "A Peace to End All Peace" is a wondefully researched and well-written account that covers the political creation of the modern Middle East from the period starting during World War I and the years immediately subsequent to it. Although Fromkin tackles the project in a somewhat predictable, chronological manner, his book is supremely researched and engaging thanks in part to the book's prescient subject matter.

Fromkin intertwines the events of World War I as they specifically related to the Ottoman Empire and the rest of the geographic Middle East with a more comprehensive War history. Specifically, the author describes and explains the political machinations and intellectual movtivations on the part of the Allied leaders (specifically the British) who oversaw the prosecution of the War. For example, the book contains a detailed account of how and why the Ottoman Empire ultimately became involved in the War on the side of Germany, thus leading to the Empire's overthrow and the subsequent contrived fracturing of the Middle East. The book does a fantastic job of exposing the truth and debunking myths associated with controversial aspects of the war. In doing so, Fromkin paints a panoramic picture and is equally contemptuous when describing the motivations of all parties involved.

Though the book is both intensely well researched and covers a topic concededly enormous, there were certain elements of the topic the book espouses to cover that could and should have garnered more attention. For example, an obvious and extremely important movement related to the modern geo-politics of the region was the birth of Zionism in the late-1800's and its rise during World War I. This topic was casually glossed over by Fromkin. As is well known, British leaders during the period concluded that promoting Palestine as a homeland for the Jews scattered throughout the world, and especially in oppressive regions such as Russia, would generate support for the Allies thus hastening a more rapid conclusion to the War. Furthermore, the British believed that if Palestine could effectively be established as the homeland for the Jews, British influence would form an unbroken chain between Eastern Africa and India. While Fromkin repeatedly discusses this latter thesis, he fails to go into any depth regarding the more subtle motivations for promoting Zionism as espoused by Lloyd George, Winston Churchill, and others who steadfastly supported the cause of the Jews.

Overall, David Fromkin has written a fantastic account and has demonstrated both a supreme grasp of the subject and impeccably sharp analysis. As stated above, however, the topic is much too expansive for each aspect of the book's subject to be appropriately covered in only 550+ pages.

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