Britain in the Middle East 1619-1971 Synopsis
Britain in the Middle East provides a comprehensive survey of British involvement in the Middle East, exploring their mutual construction and influence across the entire historical sweep of their relationship. In the 17th century, Britain was establishing trade links in the Middle East, using its position in India to increasingly exclude other European powers. Over the coming centuries this commercial influence developed into political power and finally formal empire, as the British sought to control their regional hegemony through military force. Robert Harrison charts this relationship, exploring how the Middle East served as the launchpad for British offensive action in the World Wars, and how resentment against colonial rule in the region led ultimately to political and Islamic revolutions and Britain's demise as a global, imperial power.
Britain in the Middle East 1619-1971 Press Reviews
This entertaining book presents a breathless romp through the many misguided, dishonest, and ill-fated ventures of the British in the Middle East. Writing in a style that younger undergraduates will probably find appealing, Harrison (Southern Oregon Univ.) adopts an informal and colloquial manner of presentation that characterizes, for example, Egypt as the jugular vein of the British Empire, or the possible outcome of a British policy proposal as no harm, no foul. Social and cultural historians might decry the book because it is an unabashedly old-fashioned, straightforward diplomatic and military history. Nevertheless, Harrison does not shy away from providing copious illustrations of the duplicity and deceit practiced by British politicians and diplomats. In this, however, the British were not alone. Middle Eastern politics necessarily drew in the Ottoman Turks, French, Germans, Americans, and Russians. None of these actors emerge with any dignity. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Public, general, and undergraduate libraries. * CHOICE * Harrison is to be commended for making such an important subject highly accessible to students and scholars at all levels. His work is a welcome addition to the literature on both British history and the modern Middle East. * Journal of British Studies * In this succinct, sweeping, and spirited chronicle of Britain's expansion into the Middle East and its ultimate retreat from the region, from the founding of the East India Company in the seventeenth century to the exit from Aden in the twentieth, Harrison expertly emphasizes trade, treaty-making, protectorates, costly military contests and wars, and European and indigenous rivalries. An imperial ideology identified the nation's very survival with the defense of empire in the Middle East, especially in the strategic key, Egypt. Besides exploring the pivotal roles of British leaders, such as Palmerston and Churchill, Harrison examines critiques of British behavior by local influentials, such as Tewfiq and Ali. Britain's legacy in the Middle East is mixed, argues Harrison. Through informal and formal means, Britain helped blunt the ambitions of other imperial powers in the region but suffered financial ruin at home while alienating the people of the Middle East and stimulating today's political volatility. * Thomas G. Paterson, University of Connecticut, USA * Meticulously researched and vividly written, this is a superb historical narrative that illuminates the origins of many issues confronting the Middle East and the international community today. Harrison accomplishes admirably his objective of providing fresh analysis of the expanse of British informal influence and dominance in the Middle East from its origins in the seventeenth century through its painful withdrawal following the Second World War. Never losing sight of his larger purpose, he includes telling detail and profiles of key individuals that support his arguments. He invariably sees the forest for the trees and inspires others to do the same. * Thomas Howard, Emeritus Professor of History, Virginia Tech, USA * Harrison provides a fresh and critical survey of a big topic... By distinguishing between British informal' and formal rule , Harrison makes some valuable points, but he also recognizes that British identifying themselves with empire, relying heavily on various native and European elites and mercenary minorities, often humiliated Muslim majorities, a legacy that gets much more attention these days. * Roger Adelson, Professor Emeritus of History, Arizona State University, Tempe, USA *