In 1916, in the middle of the First World War, two men secretly agreed to divide the Middle East between them.
Sir Mark Sykes was a visionary politician; François Georges-Picot a diplomat with a grudge. The deal they struck, which was designed to relieve tensions that threatened to engulf the Entente Cordiale, drew a line in the sand from the Mediterranean to the Persian frontier. Territory north of that stark line would go to France; land south of it, to Britain. The creation of Britain’s ‘mandates’ of Palestine, Transjordan and Iraq, and France’s in Lebanon and Syria, made the two powers uneasy neighbours for the following thirty years.
Through a stellar cast of politicians, diplomats, spies and soldiers, including T. E. Lawrence, Winston Churchill and Charles de Gaulle, A Line in the Sand vividly tells the story of the short but crucial era when Britain and France ruled the Middle East. It explains exactly how the old antagonism between these two powers inflamed the more familiar modern rivalry between the Arabs and the Jews, and ultimately led to war between the British and French in 1941 and between the Arabs and Jews in 1948.
Amazing book! I had heard about it for a while and I was very interested in the subject. A Line in the Sand by James Barr is a great choice for those looking for some insight into the Middle Eastern events that shaped the region.
Extremely well written, witty and funny at times, the books seem to be a conversation with someone who witnessed the whole thing. Fast-paced and full of quotes that explain what the political actors were thinking the book is a very easy read.
It’s a comprehensive look into the influence Britain and France had on the collapse of the Ottoman Empire and what happened with its Arab territories right after. Awesome use of historical quotes and their implication in moulding the Arab states as we know them.
Extremely well documented and objective to a certain extent. Presenting the facts, and the opinions of those who had the power to change things and how they used it or not. Makes a whole sphere of issues come to light and eases perception on some key events. More importantly, it makes you understand why the Arabs acted like they did.
It shows the costs and intricacies of governing a faraway land. We see Winston Churchill’s influence and connection with the whole deal and of course T.E. Lawrence’s as well. Amazing inside details quotes blend it all together in a very compact and logical story. A great collage of history in a great book.
Amazing how people can fight over borders that don’t exist and create lines in the sand. The stroke of oil and kings and leaders of opinion force the hands of the political actors.
It also presents the start of the Palestine Problem and how the British were able to contain it, or rather not. Amazing how they found themselves swiftly overwhelmed. And how the Zionist movement took over and influenced the hands of the great powers right after WWII to give them what they wanted.
An amazing portrait of the Middle East and of the people who shaped it. Great book that is definitely worth a read for those interested in this part of the world. Let me know what you think.