In the first quarter of the 20th century, the British Government, the banks and leading individuals in London reached historic decisions that determined the name, shape and future of the region known as the Middle East. In this book, Roger Adelson examines who made policy, on what grounds, with what information, and with what results.;The setting for the narrative is London, then the world's greatest metropolis and its financial and political centre.
Adelson evokes the atmosphere of Whitehall, Fleet Street, the City of London, and Westminster, and paints a portrait of the individuals (Balfour, Churchill, Lloyd George, Curzon, Cromer, and others) who defined the political agenda. Using an extensive range of public and private archives, he identifies issues of money, power, and territorial ambition at the heart of policy, and decisions made in ignorance of and often wholly without reference to local interests.;
The book explores and explains British priorities both before and after the 1914-1918 War: the protection of the Suez Canal and Persian Gulf; the fear of a German drive to the East and the subjugation of the Turks; the discovery of oil; the postwar suppression of nationalist aspirations and the establishment of collaborative regimes more in tune with London than with the Middle East itself. It identifies the virtual invention of the modern Middle East and the roots of the resulting ethnic and nationalist antagonisms that characterize the region today.