Empires of the Sand - The Struggle for Mastery in the Middle East 1789-1923 (Anglais) Broché – 2 avril 2001
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Furthermore, it has legs. It was the first history book that my wife read over the past ten years and she came away, altered in her perceptions as well as impressed. I then sent it to my so who is a distinguished Cardiac researcher who rarely these days can spare reading time away from material in his own speciality area. He too could not put it down.
It is a pity that books such as this do not get the comprehensive audiences they deserve.
Using original sources and masterful scholarship the Karshes' effectively refute the Fromkin version. (The Karshes refer to Fromkin's standard history as a "caricature" (p. 351).) In the orthodox view the Germans swindled the naïve Ottomans into an alliance in WWI. But the Karshes' researches reveal that it was the ambitious young Ottoman rulers who took the initiative and rushed into an alliance with Germany in hopes of territorial expansion and restoration of the great days of Ottoman power. And this alliance for aggrandizement by the Ottomans is, according to the Karshes, "by far the most important decision in the history of the modern Middle East." In effect it was the Ottomans' hubris and lust for power that brought them down, by forming an alliance with Germany, the losing power in WWI.
And after WWI, far from being supine, the Arabs were busy vying for their own, smaller religious and ethnic groups, which were in constant conflict with one another. If the Great Powers had not pushed for the formation of larger states, the Arabs would have fallen into innumerable small clannish social units - which would have forever been in total chaos with internecine power struggles.
Arab Middle Easterners since the early 1920's have blamed Europe (and the West in general) for their failed states, failed economies and failure in general to get along in the modern world. According to the Karshes the Middle Easterners are largely responsible for their own destinies. Far from being victims, they have created their own modern existence. "Western Guilt" has no basis in historical reality.
One more note, the maps in this book are terrible and confusing with most important towns and borders left out. Studying the Middle East without good maps makes the job a whole lot harder. Just a thought.