A Peace to End All Peace, 20th Anniversary Edition: The Fall of the Ottoman Empire and the Creation of the Modern Middle East

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Overview

Published with a new afterword from the author—the classic, bestselling account of how the modern Middle East was created

The Middle East has long been a region of rival religions, ideologies, nationalisms, and ambitions. All of these conflicts—including the hostilities between Arabs and Israelis, and the violent challenges posed by Iraq’s competing sects—are rooted in the region’s political inheritance: the arrangements, unities, and divisions...

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A Peace to End All Peace: The Fall of the Ottoman Empire and the Creation of the Modern Middle East

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Overview

Published with a new afterword from the author—the classic, bestselling account of how the modern Middle East was created

The Middle East has long been a region of rival religions, ideologies, nationalisms, and ambitions. All of these conflicts—including the hostilities between Arabs and Israelis, and the violent challenges posed by Iraq’s competing sects—are rooted in the region’s political inheritance: the arrangements, unities, and divisions imposed by the Allies after the First World War.

In A Peace to End All Peace, David Fromkin reveals how and why the Allies drew lines on an empty map that remade the geography and politics of the Middle East. Focusing on the formative years of 1914 to 1922, when all seemed possible, he delivers in this sweeping and magisterial book the definitive account of this defining time, showing how the choices narrowed and the Middle East began along a road that led to the conflicts and confusion that continue to this day.

A new afterword from Fromkin, written for this edition of the book, includes his invaluable, updated assessment of this region of the world today, and on what this history has to teach us.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Wonderful...No book published in recent years has more lasting relevance to our understanding of the Middle East."—Jack Miles, Los Angeles Book Review

"Extraordinarily ambitious, provocative and vividly written...Fromkin unfolds a gripping tale of diplomatic double-dealing, military incompetence and political upheaval."—Reid Beddow, Washington Post Book World

"Ambitious and splendid...An epic tale of ruin and disillusion...of great men, their large deeds and even larger follies."—Fouad Ajami, The Wall Street Journal

"[It] achieves an ideal of historical writing: its absorbing narrative not only recounts past events but offers a useful way to think about them....The book demands close attention and repays it. Much of the information here was not available until recent decades, and almost every page brings us news about a past that troubles the present."—Naomi Bliven, The New Yorker

"One of the first books to take an effective panoramic view of what was happening, not only in Egypt, Palestine, Turkey, and the Arab regions of Asia but also in Afghanistan and central Asia....Readers will come away from A Peace to End All Peace not only enlightened but challenged—challenged in a way that is brought home by the irony of the title."—The New York Times Book Review

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780805088090
  • Publisher: Holt, Henry & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 7/21/2009
  • Edition description: 20th Anniversary
  • Edition number: 20
  • Pages: 688
  • Sales rank: 84,094
  • Product dimensions: 5.32 (w) x 8.04 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

David Fromkin is a professor at Boston University and the author of several acclaimed books of nonfiction, including The King and the Cowboy: Theodore Roosevelt and Edward the Seventh, Secret Partners. He lives in New York City.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 19 )
Rating Distribution

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Sort by: Showing all of 19 Customer Reviews
  • Posted November 12, 2009

    There is no other book that explains the arbitrary allocation of nationalities in the middle east and the problems it poses not only to those countries but the rest of the world.

    I read this book again before a recent trip to Turkey and Greece. In a few hundred pages this book is packed with valuable information that can give us insights into the incorrigible disputes in the middle east and the Muslim world in general. I have a sneaking suspicion that many of our elected representatives who are making important decisions affecting these areas are clueless about how artificial the boundaries of these countries are and how our well intentioned solutions to their problems are bound to fail. It is a must read for anyone interested in how our foreign policy in the next few years might impact the geopolitical equation for many years to come.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 28, 2005

    Tortuous Destiny of Middle Eastern Tapestry

    David Fromkin gives his readers a sweeping account of the fall of the Ottoman Empire and the birth of the contemporary Middle East, defined as Egypt, Israel, Iran, Turkey, the Arab states of Asia, Central Asia and Afghanistan (pg. 16). Fromkin mainly focuses on the decision-making process of Europeans and Americans who, between 1914 and 1922, determined the fate of the region without any input of its inhabitants (pg. 17, 400). The area that the much-diminished, anachronistic Ottoman Empire occupied in 1914 was one of the few territories that the European empires had not yet shared among themselves (pg. 24, 32). The European powers did not wait for the fall of the Ottomans before arguing about their respective zones of influence in the region after the war. Statesmen such as Lloyd George, Woodrow Wilson, Herbert Kitchener, T.E. Lawrence, Vladimir Lenin and Joseph Stalin played leading roles in re-shaping the region. Winston Churchill - at times unintentionally - had the most enduring impact on its cartography (pg. 19, 25, 73, 385-388, 493-529, 558-567). After losing the patronage of Britain against Russia, the weakened Ottoman Empire, anxious to pursue its modernization while living in fear of Western powers' designs, convinced Germany to become its partner in 1914 (pg. 33-50, 75, 142). Fromkin convincingly demonstrates that Churchill was not to blame for pushing Turkey into the arms of Germany (pg. 54-76). Britain and allied powers believed that the Ottoman war would be a sideshow that could be easily managed (pg. 83, 115, 119-123) but they were repeatedly proven wrong (pg. 200-203, 215, 248, 289, 301). The poorly executed attack on Turkey at the Dardanelles could have considerably shortened the duration of the war (pg. 127, 264). Churchill was the scapegoat for the fiasco and was demoted within the government (pg. 128, 154, 159, 161-162, 233). After resigning and spending a few months in the wilderness, Churchill, who was perceived as dangerous across the board, was brought back to the government at the insistence of Lloyd George, the new British Prime Minister (pg. 166, 234, 265-266). Kitchener and his Lieutenants acting on his behalf in British Cairo imposed their design on government's policy towards the Middle East at the expense of the India Office (pg. 88-95, 106-110). Britain would rule the region indirectly after the fall of the Ottoman Empire (pg. 85). Like the French, Kitchener and his men wrongly assumed that the Moslem Middle East would be glad to be ruled by Christians (pg. 93-94, 102, 106). The British looked at Hussein, the Sherif of Mecca and its Emir, as the ideal candidate for the position of 'Pope' of Islam (pg. 105). The British leadership wrongly believed that Islam was a single entity and that temporal and spiritual authority could be easily split (pg. 96, 104). The Arabs misled the Allies about their true strength to fight the Ottoman Empire. This cost Britain dearly because their core competency was only guerilla warfare against the Turks, until the capture of Jerusalem (pg. 186-187, 219-222, 309, 313, 377-378, 396). Over time, the British became disillusioned with Hussein. However, they supported two of his sons in the fulfillment of their ambitions (pg. 326-329, 506-512). Britain entered into negotiations with France, Russia, and later Italy that ultimately resulted in the cursed Sykes-Picot-Sazanov agreement and other secret treaty understandings to share the spoils of victory in the Middle East (pg. 189-199, 267, 287, 330, 334-335, 342-344, 373-379, 391-402). The Allies had no intention to pay the price Hussein demanded for his support to the allied cause (pg. 186, 227); only lip service was paid in the field to the nominal pro-Arab independence policies of London during and after WWI (pg. 325, 345). The French and Russians showed similar contempt for Arab and Islamic aspirations of independence in the Middle East in the same period (pg. 378, 435-440, 463-490). Much to t

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 4, 2004

    A great testimonial on elitist policies !

    Mr. Fromkin from the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) and an expert on conflicts has written a marvelous book that thoroughly delineated the policies of the dominant powers in the early 1900s, which led to the creation of the modern Middle East. Mr. Fromkin discusses how the seeds of conflict were created by the colonial powers, in order to ensure their continuous dominance over the Middle East and its natural resources. This book subtly addresses the politics of discord creation, and the importance of well designed conflicts in attaining the desired results. Peace to end all peace is a great reading for the history buff who is interested in an elitist perspective.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 26, 2003

    Phenomenal

    A concise, exciting, well-written condensation of the creation of the modern Middle East from the ashes of the Ottoman Empire. Fromkin's scope is vast but the prose never gets lost or loses its verve. Anyone interested in understanding all the current yammering about the 'arbitrary' nature of modern Middle East borders will do well to read this book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 10, 2002

    An excellent study & a very appropriate title !

    This is a first class, detailed analysis of how the Middle East as we know it today was formed. I would highly recommend that this book is read together with Efraim Karsh's "Empires Of The Sands; The Struggle For Mastery Of the Mid-East, 1789 - 1923", for a thorough grounding in this subject. Recent events have shown that, whether we like it or not, matters pertaining to the region are going to affect us all in one way or another. With this in mind, it is disturbing that most people possess an overwhelming, innocent, ignorance or apathy in relation to the background of the region and the context of ongoing disputes and military struggles. This book provides an excellent public service in bringing essential information to the public's attention. Without books like this, such an ignorance of regional matters such as the Palestinian-Israeli issue and Islamic Fundamentalism can give rise to a distorted understanding of these matters, making the public at large so vulnerable to disinformation and propaganda. The author covers the hatreds, disputes, rivalries, vested self-interests and hidden agendas of those individuals and nations involved and responsible for carving out and mapping the region during the post First World War years. The decision making process is covered in detail with reference to recently opened archives of hitherto official secret documents and private papers. This is essential reading for an accurate comprehension of the region. Some matters will astound you, especially the level of appeasement shown by my own British Government towards the regions' Arabs and how the British, with a swipe of the pen, literally gave away the vast majority of land promised as a new Jewish state, to form the new country of Transjordan. Read on and digest. Once you have read this and the book outlined above by Efraim Karsh, might I respectfully recommend that you then proceed to read Joan Peter's remarkable account of the region entitled, "From Time Immemorial; The Origins Of The Arab-Jewish Conflict Over Palestine". Thank you.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 16, 2001

    A Masterful Exploration of the Creation of Hell-on-Earth

    Ever wonder how the Mid-East got to be in the mess it's in? Read this comprehensive, richly detailed, and thoroughly objective book about the arrogance, ignorance, bad diplomacy and good intentions of European nations and the Ottoman Empire in the first two decades of the Twentieth Century. Fromkin eloquently describes enough self-aggrandizement and bungling to keep the Middle East in turmoil for at least another millennium, long after all the oil runs out. Want to read the very best short history of the modern Mid-East? This is the book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 21, 2014

    A must read narrative

    A dispassionate account of English foreign policy vis-vis it's political adversaries in the Great Game geopolitics of the early 20th century as it led the charge to carve-up the Ottoman Empire, with regards to the ethnic aspirations of its diversied populace; the aftermath established the taproots of modern Christian-Moslem mutual distrust.

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  • Posted October 31, 2013

    The story of how the twentieth century was created, as well as the modern Middle East"

    Before reading this book, the puzzle of how the modern Middle East came to be had quite a few pieces missing! Little did I realize that decisions made during those crucial years, from 1914 through 1922 when the world was engaged in the Great War, accounted for the political form of the modern Middle East. In fact, it had somehow escaped me that the Ottoman Empire, that ruled most of the Middle East in 1914, was dismantled in 1922, following the conflict of the Great War, and that the negotiation of the subsequent armistice treaties gave us the collection of countries we have there today .

    It is well known that the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, heir to the throne of Austria-Hungary, launched the Great War, the first World War. Subsequently, a tangle of alliances among the European nations, that had created a fragile geopolitical structure, had deconstructed. Europe was thrust into war. In western Europe, the war soon became one of exhaustion as trench warfare dragged on.

    What is less well know is that soon after the war had begun, the Ottoman Empire signed a treaty of alliance with Germany and thus joined the Central Powers. Professor Fromkin weaves an intriguing story of the complex and multifaceted events that occurred throughout every corner of the Middle East. Dozens of crucial battles were fought, bargains were made, treaties were executed, kings were crowned, boundaries were drawn, countries were created. The British government was the leading player in this high stakes game but the British government was itself multifaceted. Power bases existed in London, Cairo, and New Delhi, each with their own agendas and world views.

    For me, the book's greatest revelation was that the Eastern front of the Great War was where the action was! While the Allied and Central Powers forces were bogged down in their trenches in France and Belgium, the battles and troop movements, the strategic decision making, and the drama of war occurred in the theatres of the East.

    The second great revelation was the story of the role that the United Kingdom played in the founding of a national home for the Jewish people in Palestine. There was a belief that this could be done without prejudice to the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, so that the resulting populations could live together in peace (a somewhat naive belief considering more recent history). Prime Minister David Lloyd George himself was a Christian Zionist as were many other members of the Cabinet.

    It must be pointed out that this book is an incredibly complicated, detailed, tightly reasoned, intricate, and well told tale. When the reader comes to the end, it is almost necessary to turn to the beginning and start again! Certainly there is a benefit to rereading chapters and reviewing episodes.

    This is a big, rich, deep, complex investigation into the events in a small slice of the history of the world that have shaped the destiny of millions of people ever since.

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