The Great War & the Middle East - Robert Johnson



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The Great War & the Middle East - a strategic study
Robert Johnson
Oxford University Press
UK Publication Date

The First World War in the Middle East swept away five hundred years of Ottoman domination. It ushered in new ideologies and radicalised old ones - from Arab nationalism and revolutionary socialism to impassioned forms of atavistic Islamism. It created heroic icons, like the enigmatic Lawrence of Arabia or the modernizing Atatrk, and destroyed others. And it completely re-drew the map of the region, forging a host of new nation states, including Turkey, Iraq,Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, and Saudi Arabia - all of them (with the exception of Turkey) under the 'protection' of the victor powers, Britain and France. For many, the self-serving intervention of these powers in the region between 1914 and 1919 is the major reason for the conflicts that have raged there onand off ever since. Yet many of the most commonly accepted assertions about the First World War in the Middle East are more often stated than they are truly tested. Rob Johnson, military historian and former soldier, now seeks to put this right by examining in detail the strategic and operational course of the war in the Middle East. Johnson argues that, far from being a sideshow to the war in Europe, the Middle Eastern conflict was in fact the centre of gravity in a war for imperial domination and prestige.Moreover, contrary to another persistent myth of the First World War in the Middle East, local leaders and their forces were not simply the puppets of the Great Powers in any straightforward sense. The way in which these local forces embraced, resisted, succumbed to, disrupted, or on occasion overturnedthe plans of the imperialist powers for their own interests in fact played an important role in shaping the immediate aftermath of the conflict - and in laying the foundations for the troubled Middle East that we know today.

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Rob Johnson is the Director of the Changing Character of War (CCW) research programme at Oxford University ( The CCW Programme brings together academics, policy makers and armed forces in the study of war, pursuing a variety of research themes including the future character of war; war and the state in a connected world; unconventional warfare; strategy and war, and the moral-legal dimensions of war. Rob's primary interests are in strategyand the history of war, particularly in Asia and the Middle East, and he has examined the problems of strategic decision-making in a variety of contexts and publications.

A very readable 'single volume' for any military history buff to gain an excellent overall picture of what most definitely was not a 'minor sideshow' to the Western Front.
Neville Taylor, RUSI-Vic Library

A welcome addition... will be particularly interesting to those looking to study diverse aspects of the First World War in the Middle East, explained within the political context of its time.
Sneha Reddy, RUSI Journal

A very readable 'single volume' for any military history buff to gain an excellent overall picture of what most definitely was not a 'minor sideshow' to the Western Front.
Neville Taylor, RUSI-Vic Library

There are some fascinating passages later in the book about the chaotic situation in the Caucasus and Turkmenistan following the collapse of Imperial Russia.
Martin Bourke, Asian Affairs

Mr Johnson has done full justice to a crucial theatre of the Great War which will always merit further examination and analysis.
Martin Bourke, Asian Affairs

This book is the best sort of military history, combining the big strategic picture with what the struggle meant on the ground.
Professor Margaret MacMillan, Books of the Year 2016, The Times

Book of the month:
A powerful, all-encompassing book that gives real insight ... a detailed and comprehensive book covering all of the actions in the Middle East during WWI, giving rich context to the decision-making processes involved, and providing interesting accounts of the major battles. Most importantly, it challenges traditional views on Great Power manipulation, arguing that outcomes were shaped by local actors and events. A very useful for book for seriousreaders of the period. Recommended.
Keith Robinson, Military History Monthly

First edition
Keyword Index
World War, 1914-1918 - Campaigns - Middle East.|Middle East - History, Military - 20th century.|Middle East - History - 20th century.
Country of Publication
Number of Pages
xviii, 354

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