History of the Ottoman Empire is saturated with different thrilling events. The release of David Lean's movie “Lawrence of Arabia” made it possible for the general audience to see how the British Empire campaigned during World War I to achieve independence for the Arab countries from the Ottoman Empire. The movie, however, does not answer the question why the British troops supported the Arabs and why the Turkish chose Germans at their allies. The movie also does not explain what the mission of Lawrence of Arabia in the deserts was. Other prominent authors have widely speculated on the themes of World War I, the role of Ottoman Empire and the reasons of its collapse. No one, except the academic community, provided informative, but comprehensible guide to the events of those days to the general audience. The people are confused by the complex historical texts, which analyze political and social issues, and which can be fathomed by the professional historians only. Fortunately, nowadays an outstanding book became available. “Peace to end all peace" provides a unique historical and critical insight into the affairs of those days, making the picture clear even for the readers with no prior historical background.
The book explains the reasons of dissolution of the old Ottoman Empire, providing detailed analysis of the repercussions for the Western countries and the newly formed Soviet Union. It also depicts the outcomes of the breakup of the people of the Middle East. The main objective on the book is to analyze the political roots of contemporary Middle East. The book provides a detailed analysis of boundaries formation, stressing that originally they were developed in 1922.
The critical community positively acclaimed the book. Even professional historians favorably commented that the book. The popular opinion is that although the book is not an academic historical source, it is helpful for the average reader to understand the matters of the Middle East conflicts at the beginning of the 20th century.
The objective of this paper is to review a book, to conclude on its academic credibility, historical accuracy and comprehensibility for the general audience.
The Great Britain traditionally considered France and Russia as the main rivals on the international political agenda. Middle East was recognized as a battleground for blocking the roads to India, the most important British dominion. During the First World War, international competition culminated. To be more specific, the British Empire feared that Russian, its former alley, could potentially expand its communistic ideas. The British Empire, therefore, fomented strategic alliances with the Arabic tribes, instigating them to start rebellions against the Turkish Empire. In this context, they discussed the book is the first taken attempt objectively to analyze the events which took place in Afghanistan and Central Asia. Previous literature written on the subject centralized the events, which took place in Egypt, Palestine, Turkey and the Arabic world. It is also mentioned that an important contributor to the book success is brought vision of the author, who deeply explored the areas, which are not conventionally associated with the Middle East history.
The book is oriented on the British audience, since it relies predominantly on English historical records, and analyzes military actions and political of the Royal troops and the British Cabinet. Despite the fact that the objective of the book is to outline the British motives, nevertheless the aspects concerning Russia and Turkey have been effectively covered as well. The works of different authors have been coherently incorporated into the study. In particular, Richard Ullman's “on Britain and the Russian Revolution” served as an invaluable source for Mr. Fromkin. Moreover, the author speculates over the strong wartime contest between the British Empire and the French Republic over Syria, territories of Palestine and Lebanon as a part of the Great Game. The book specifically highlights that capture of Jerusalem on December 11, 1917 by Gen. Sir Edmund Allenby opened the territories of Palestine available for the British occupation. The key government officials in London started to speculate that the chances of potential French invasion into the area were substantially reduced by this act.
Moreover, it is also speculated that even when the troops of Her Royal Majesty fought together with the Russian and the French detachments against the German Empire and their Turkish allies, the Great Game was never forgotten by them. When the conflict unleashed in 1914, Britain's Secretary Of State for War actively advocated the idea that all possible measures should be taken to obstruct the potential expansion of the Russian Empire into the middle is territories. The book addresses that these comments were positively received by David Lloyd George, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of those times. Most importantly, and emphasis is made on the fact that even United against the common enemy, former opponents never forgot the past and in their campaign against the German Empire, both the Russians and the English tested that their military skills and expertise for their own conflict.
Fromkin also highlighted the inconsistency of the British politicians. In particular, he remarkably illustrated how the political reasoning of Lord Curson, a Gov. of India changed over the time. Lord Curzon was considered to be among the most historically gifted British politicians, although his judgments were not always reliable. Fromkin emphasizes that his tendency for exaggeration was well known among the peers. For instance, he popularly referred to France as the biggest danger for the rising power of the British Empire. Two years later, he recognized communist Russia as the greatest threat in the East. Moreover, he stressed that nothing greater ever happened in his time as a British official on the Middle East.
However, it was Cruzon himself, who understood the importance of self-determination aspect, the solution that was later applied by the United States to achieve peaceful regulation of the problem in the Middle East. He argued that by granting the Arabs autonomy rights, the British Empire found a loyal and reliable ally to accomplish its missions. The British officials started to open the brightest prospects before the Arab leaders. Further, they learn described by Fromkin is one of the purest forms of dishonesty. He illustrates that the Bureau of Arab affairs in Cairo show no signs of belief that the Arab community had sufficient skills for self-government. Giving autonomy rights to Arabs, therefore, was nothing, but to attempt to masquerade indirect British rule. The author makes it clear for the general audience that the promises made by the British Empire to the subjugated nations might not have been taken seriously.
For instance, in 1917 Balfour Declaration granted independence rights to Jews, while the Palestinian people were persuaded that this promise would not be carried out at the expense of Palestine territories. In accordance with the statement of Philip Kerr, who formerly served as secretary and advisor of the Prime Minister, a Jewish state the Palestine territories could become a bridge between Africa, Asia and Europe. It could also connect Europe with India. Prime Minister Lloyd George commented that the creation of the Jewish state would be consistent with the will of the God and the interests of the British Empire at the same time. However, under no circumstances should his attitude be taken as hypercritical. In the book chapter, Lloyd George Zionism is thought to be one of the most remarkably written parts of the book. Fromkin emphasizes the fact that in contrast to his colleagues in the British cabinet, whose training included Greek and Latin verses, the Prime Minister himself highly esteemed the Bible.
The Bible commanded that the conquest of the Holy Land should not end with its laceration into many pieces. Prime Minister Lloyd George also highlighted that the state of Palestine should be single and indivisible. The renewal of its greatness as a living entity was recognized as a task of paramount importance for the British authorities. However, this outstanding politician professionally used his eloquence to accomplish British missions in the Palestine. As predicted by him, Palestine was conquered, and they are the Britons remained.
Another important achievement of Fromkin in the course of the book is that he brought to light a formerly unknown statesman, whose actions however created the territories and contemporary politics of the Middle East. Mark Sykes successfully masterminded the reshaping of the Middle East boundaries in order to suit the interests of the Empire the best way. Paradoxically, being an ardent follower of the strong Imperial rule, he nevertheless, supported the solidification of the French positions in Syria and Lebanon. He considers that if the French Republic takes roots those countries, have a buffer zone against the invasion of the Russians could be created. He expressed similar reasoning describing the presence of the Americans in Greece and Turkey, as a counterbalance against the growing Soviet union presence.
Another important element of the story is the insistence of the author that the role of Winston Churchill was a focal point of the story. He stresses that the nominating figure of Winston Churchill animated the events. Specific accent is made on the contribution of this great statesman to Zionism. Fromkin also speculates on the role of Churchill after the war, stressing that his post-conflict activities greatly affected the way the Middle East looked.
Is also essential to highlight the fact that the role Winston Churchill in the events is filled with memorable conviction and ebullience. However, academic historians speculate that not always his rations were consistent with the documented historical events. In particular, Fromkin portrayed Churchill as a dedicated supporter of Palestinian independent state, while it is known that in reality she advocated the creation of a Jewish state, stipulating that it would be good for the world, for the Jews, for the British Empire and for the Arabs, who live in the Palestinian territories. Overall, the book is filled with an air of great confidence and Imperial Optimism.
Overall, Mr. Fromkin created a unique book, which will be of interest for both the general readers and dedicated history explorers. Despite all the criticism it attracted from the academic community for its historical inaccuracies, nevertheless the book is interesting and worth reading. The main inconsistency is that is the book elevates the deeds of Winston Churchill, whose political personality had not been fully developed by the time they conflict in the Middle East unleashed. She was still politically immature and inexperienced to affect the matters substantially. The rise of Churchill started immediately before the World War II, which fully expanded his military and political genius. Fromkin attempt to show him as an accomplished statesman of the Middle East conflict invariably failed.
Fromkin, David. A Peace to End All Peace: The Fall of the Ottoman Empire and the Creation of the Modern Middle East. New York, NY: Holt, 2009. Print.