The thrilling and definitive history of World War I in the Middle East
By 1914 the powers of Europe were sliding inexorably toward war, and they pulled the Middle East along with them into one of the most destructive conflicts in human history. In The Fall of the Ottomans, award-winning historian Eugene Rogan brings the First World War and its immediate aftermath in the Middle East to vivid life, uncovering the often ignored story of the region's crucial role in the conflict. Unlike the static killing fields of the Western Front, the war in the Middle East was fast-moving and unpredictable, with the Turks inflicting decisive defeats on the Entente in Gallipoli, Mesopotamia, and Gaza before the tide of battle turned in the Allies' favor. The postwar settlement led to the partition of Ottoman lands, laying the groundwork for the ongoing conflicts that continue to plague the modern Arab world. A sweeping narrative of battles and political intrigue from Gallipoli to Arabia, The Fall of the Ottomans is essential reading for anyone seeking to understand the Great War and the making of the modern Middle East.
Rogan (The Arabs: A History), a scholar of modern Middle Eastern history at Oxford, conducted extensive research in Ottoman Turkish and Arabic primary sources to remedy the lack of English-language WWI history from the Ottoman perspective. The result is a sweeping and nuanced work that shows how, in the years preceding the war, "the Ottoman Empire had endured a revolution, three major wars against foreign powers, and a number of internal disorders." Ottoman forces were thus at a marked disadvantage when war broke out, which was compounded by hubris and poor planning: "The rush to take on two Great Powers with inadequate preparation condemned both campaigns to catastrophic failure." Istanbul proved resilient, though, and it was only the Arab Revolt that precipitated the end of the Empire. Of the most contentious issue in latter-day Turkish history, Rogan says Ottoman documents "make a mockery of any attempt to deny the Young Turk government's role in ordering and organizing the annihilation of the Ottoman Armenian community." Though sections of the book are heavy on military strategy and tactics, Rogan's multifaceted analysis touches on everything from the use of Islamist discourse in political movements to the treatment of minorities in the modern Middle East. Photos.