Quest in the Middle East: Gertrude Bell and the Making of Modern Iraq

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"Revered or reviled, Gertrude Bell was a commanding figure: scholar, linguist, archeologist, traveller and 'orientalist'. A remarkable woman in male-dominated Edwardian society, she shunned convention by eschewing marriage and family for an academic career and the extensive travelling that would lead to her major role in Middle Eastern diplomacy. But her private life was marred by the tragedy, vulnerability and frustration that were key to her quest both for a British dominated Middle East and relief from the torture of her romantic failures." "Through her vivid writings, she brought the Arab world alive for countless Britons as she travelled to some of the region's most inhospitable places. She explored the Ottoman Empire during and after World War I when her travels throughout the region and her knowledge of Arabic made her indispensable to British Intelligence. Alongside T.E. Lawrence, she was hugely instrumental in the post-war reconfiguration of the Arab states in the Middle East. In Iraq, in particular, she became a friend and confidante of the new King Faisal, and a prime mover in drawing up the country's boundaries and establishing a constitutional monarchy there, with its parliament, civil service and legal system. She was influential in creating the state which had all the trappings of independence while remaining a virtual British colony. The legacy of her work is still being played out in the conflicts of today." "Yet behind Gertrude Bell's public success was a backdrop of personal passions, desires and the relationships that drove this extraordinary woman. Embroiled in an unsuccessful love affair with Charles Doughty-Wylie, a married man, she found peace in the solitude of the desert. But the seemingly intractable problems of the newly independent Iraq led her to write of the 'weariness of it all'. Shortly afterward she took her own life with a lethal dose of sleeping pills." Using previous unseen sources, including Gertrude Bell's own diaries and
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

'serious and reliable...deep in historical understanding and deeper in its research into the vast archival materials available.' – The New Republic

'In a fascinating account of Gertrude Bell's life and her involvement in Iraq, Liora Lukitz provides a first-rate scholarly study of the creation of the Iraqi state...a solid and most readable contribution to the current literature on the establishment of modern Iraq, its problems and possible solutions to them.' – Rami Ginat, Haaretz (Israel)

"A very satisfying read. One is drawn into the fascinating, swift-moving events of Gertrude's life in Iraq and at the same time given many insights into her personal life and the varied personalities around her. A biographically informative book that is also an artful piece of story-telling" – Professor William Graham, Harvard University

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781850434153
  • Publisher: I. B.Tauris & Company, Limited
  • Publication date: 3/3/2006
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 6.38 (w) x 9.57 (h) x 1.17 (d)

Meet the Author

Liora Lukitz obtained her PhD from the London School of Economics and has been for several years a research fellow at the Center for Middle East Studies at Harvard University, USA.

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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations vi
Acknowledgements vii
Preface 1
Prologue 10
Part I The Journey
1 'Light of Mine Eyes and Harvest of My Heart' 23
2 'She Had Known Ruptures, She Had Known the Whole' 31
3 'The Shadow of a Stone' 56
4 'I Will Dedicate This Year to You' 77
Part II Arrival
5 'On the Edge of Important Things' 107
6 'Father, Think!' 125
7 'To Make Kings, to Invent Kingdoms' 143
8 'A Tower of Strength and Wisdom' 174
9 'We Had Awakened and Become a Nation' 202
Part III Departures
10 'Dust ...' 211
11 'Flood ...' 224
Epilogue 245
Afterword 251
Notes 257
Selected Bibliography 293
Index 303
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