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Empires of the Sand - The Struggle for Mastery in the Middle East 1789-1923 (Anglais) Broché – 2 avril 2001


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Efraim Karsh is Professor and Director of the Mediterranean Studies Program at King's College, London.


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56 internautes sur 57 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
The making of the modern Middle East 7 août 2000
Par Frank J. Konopka - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié Achat vérifié
This is an excellent revisionist history of how the modern Middle East came into existence. It turns completely around the conventional theory that the Western countries were directly and solely responsible for what happened during and after World War I in the area of the Ottoman Empire. The authors place much of the blame for the results on the Ottoman leadership iteself, and the political land-grabbing of the Hashemite family. Not being an expert in this area, I have adopted a neutral attitude in this controversy, and am more than willing to read works that contradict this idea. My one quibble with this book, and it caused my rating to be lowered, is that there is an almost complete absence of adequate maps of the areas in question. To discuss places not normally familiar to Western readers, it is essential that works provide maps as references. I was continually frustrated throughout my reading when I couldn't find a map that showed a place that was under discussion in the text.
43 internautes sur 49 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Understanding What Was, Is and Will Be 27 janvier 2001
Par Lester Mann - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié
This book. the first of the authors that I read had been recommnded in passing by The Wall Street Journal. I found it to be a remarkable work. It presents historical perspectives not to be found in other "mid-east" works. And it is remarkably well written. Unlike many fine histories it does not periodically lapse into obtuseness and vagueness.
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.
32 internautes sur 37 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Excellent Book 29 mai 2000
Par Un client - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié
This book does a lot to rectify the cult of victimization and anti-Arab conspiracy theories prevalent in analysies and histories of the Arab world. It should be read in conjunction with the works of Bernard Lewis, especially his short volumes The Arabs in History and Islam and the West.
13 internautes sur 14 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
The Karshes set the record straight 29 décembre 2006
Par Frank Bunyard - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché Achat vérifié
Professors Efriam and Inari Karsh (husband and wife) have produced a tour de force and a sound rebuttal to the standard interpretation of modern Middle Eastern History. According to the orthodox version during the early 1920's a domineering, imperial Europe imposed its will on a humble and enervated Middle East. Perhaps the best account of the orthodox view is David Fromkin's "A Peace to End All Peace" (1989).

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.
74 internautes sur 96 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Eastern imperialism 19 juin 2001
Par Alyssa A. Lappen - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié
People best remember their own experience and the recent past--a "framing effect" that behavioral scientists have successfully applied to the study of finance. These historians look beyond the recent Western "frame" at Middle East history, exposing the falsity of Arab claims that the region was illicitly colonized: in fact Arab and Ottoman rulers were the true architects of the modern Middle East.

Hardly isolated from Europe, the Ottoman empire often called great Western powers to its aide: Napoleon Bonaparte's 1789 conquest of Egypt prompted Sultan Selim III to declare Jihad against the French and join the infidel British and Russian empires to keep his own in tact. In 1804, the Russian and Austrian empires similarly guaranteed the Ottoman empire's integrity. A falling out with Russia produced an Ottoman treaty with the British in 1809. And so on.

Arab and Ottoman pleas brought Britain to Egypt too. The British, French and Ottoman empires originally opposed the Suez Canal, which they feared would violate Ottoman integrity, harming overland trade routes to Asia. But successive Egyptian khedives pushed the idea, concessions for which the Sultan ratified in 1866. Khedive Ismail's bribes to Abdul Hamid II brought Egypt to near-bankruptcy; he sold his Suez shares to Britain in 1875. In the following upheaval, the Sultan begged Britain to take control of Egypt. Prime Minister Gladstone refused. Only renewed Ottoman pleas convinced the reluctant British to send a naval squadron to quell an Egyptian rebellion in 1882--ironically making Britain the Canal's chief beneficiary, an entanglement from which she tried mightily to withdraw. The Sultan snubbed Britain's offer to give Egypt back.

Similarly, Ottoman escapades redrew Europe's map. In 1854, the Ottomans aligned with Britain and France against Russia in the Crimea--beginning a war that they theoretically could not win--only to harness the great powers and fight "as a full-fledged member" of the coalition. Russia left Serbia, Moldavia and southern Bessarabia (seized in 1812); the Black Sea was neutralized. Eventually, Romania emerged, triggering a Balkan eruption. In 1875, the Ottomans met new Balkan threats with harsh reprisals culminating in bloodbaths. Abdul Hamid II balked at proposed British and Russian solutions. The resulting war cost the Ottomans more territory. Ottoman Europe fell after the Balkan War in 1913.

Yet Europe's great powers remained loathe to devour the Ottoman carcass, by then controlled by the Young Turks. Russia even offered to go to war to prevent another power from taking Constantinople. In 1914, despite secret Ottoman-German and Ottoman-Bulgarian alignments, the triple Entente again guaranteed Ottoman territorial integrity--in exchange for Ottoman neutrality, which Enver Pasha violated, weighing into World War I on the losing side. The Arabs willingly followed.

In short, the Ottomans, with Arab support, brought ruin on themselves--by pursuing an imperialist World War I plan to again expand the empire, a catastrophe ironically exacerbated by their wins at Gallipolli and Mesopotamia, and territorial gains from Russia's 1917 withdrawal.

Europe cannot be blamed, either, for the Ottoman genocide of 1.4 million Armenian men, women and children; the slaughter of 150,000 Christians in Assyria; or the order to deport from Palestine all non-Ottoman subjects among 100,000 Jews there, which took 10,000 Jewish civilian lives before the Germans and U.S. intervened.

The Arabs emerged decided victors: Sharif Hussein of Mecca convinced the British (falsely) that he had full Arab backing for a Caliphate to replace the Ottoman empire--creating lasting friction among Arabs and between Arabs and the West. His rule would exclude Palestine (then running from the Mediterranean to all of current-day Jordan)--which Hussein, negotiator Muhammed Faruqi and the de Bunsen Committee all accepted in 1917, despite Hussein's later denials. Yet Hussein four sons would rule Arabia, Iraq, upper Mesopotamia and Syria. The Saudis took Arabia. Faisal lost Syria, but took Iraq. Abdullah got what Hussein had previously agreed was off limits --- 75% of Palestine.

You get here the big picture: Ottoman and Arab empire-building, war-mongering, calumny, double-dealing and perfidy probably had more effect on the modern Middle East than anything else.

--- Alyssa A. Lappen
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