T'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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M_50x66
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Nov 09, 11

bookshelves: middle, east, world, war, i, history, israel, jordan, palestine, egypt, churchill, lloyd, george, zaghlul, pasha, ottoman, empire, turks, djemal, enver, bolshevik, revolution
Read in August, 2007

The last 2 chapters were disappointing.[return]In the last one he makes a quick 10 page conclusion of everything that I thought was just poor;[return]I have a feeling he had a deadline to meet and those last 10 pages he regurgitated the night before it was due.[return]All in all,[return]it was interesting, but very, very dense. I would say university history class level.[return]I would say that I know more now on the history than I did before, but there was such a huge mass of information that you really need to stick to this book and not stop for too long or you'll just forget everything.[return][return]Despite the poor conclusion, he did say something interesting there:[return]Basically he said that the current system was never meant for Arabia.[return]The Europeans had concurred the world, and the last place to concur was the Middle East.[return]They had concurred America, north and south,[return]Australia, New Zealand, east Asia, Africa...[return]Everything was colonized by them.[return]They believed in this secular nation-state, which worked in Europe, but had never been introduced to the Middle East.[return]First Islam conquered the whole area, and [return]then the ottomans took over for 700 years.[return]Also, the fact that all the leaders were put in place by the English and French meant that the local people had no faith in their politicians, and didn't understand their borders.[return]For example, the Saudi-Jordanian border is the site of where Ibn Saud tried to invade what is now Jordan,[return]but Jordan had king Abdullah, put in place by the English, so the English sent airplanes and tanks and armored vehicles and massacred Ibn Saud's bedouins.[return]They did this to save face. They could not have their puppet being killed or crushed. It would simply make the Brits look weak.[return]The site of that battle became the border of Jordan and Saudi Arabia:[return]hence the names, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.[return]Basically 2 local dynastic tribal leaders tried to adapt to this European idea of nation-states and took their areas of control and turned them into countries.[return]So basically what I think he was trying to say in his conclusion was that that form of government was never meant for the Middle East and won't last long.[return]He was saying that the Europeans underestimated the only unifying factor in Arabia, which was Islam.[return]They would never have believed that a bunch of wahhabi bedouins could invade the hejaz, or that the muslim brotherhood would be so strong today, or the Afghani mujahedeen, or the shia revolution in Iran...[return] [return]He also said that it was like Europe in the 5th century[return]the roman empire crumbled and then Europe spent 1000 years warring against each other trying to find a comfortable solution, and it evolved this idea of secular nation states.[return]Anyway, I came off with the feeling that the English and the French screwed up everything, and have the blood of millions of deaths on their hands, and that the countries that exist today are sad jokes.[return]The whole area was part of Greater [return]Syria for 2 weeks. All the Arabs there united under 1 government right in between Egypt and Iran.[return]And I think that's how it should end one day.[return][return][return]So to summarize:[return]Pros:[return][return]Good book.[return]Dense[return]Well researched[return][return]Cons:[return][return]As one reviewer mentioned, too euro-centric for a book about the Middle-East.[return]The part on Ibn Saud taking the Hejaz and naming himself king, for example, was about 2 pages long![return]Also, he seems to quickly mention things that were of utmost importance, such as Ibn Saud collecting vast amounts of money from the British. He does not connect the dots here, because what this means is that Ibn Saud would have had little money to pay his troops and to buy weapons if the British had not payed him off as handsomely as they did, and hence, the world would not know a Wahhabi Saudi Kingdom in control of Islam's two holiest cities. And that, is something worth a chapter or two.
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