The Great War in the Middle East : A Clash of Empires book cover
1st Edition

The Great War in the Middle East
A Clash of Empires

ISBN 9780367661748
Published September 30, 2020 by Routledge
364 Pages

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Book Description

Traditionally, in general studies of the First World War, the Middle East is an arena of combat that has been portrayed in romanticised terms, in stark contrast to the mud, blood, and presumed futility of the Western Front. Battles fought in Egypt, Palestine, Mesopotamia, and Arabia offered a different narrative on the Great War, one in which the agency of individual figures was less neutered by heavy artillery.

As with the historiography of the Western Front, which has been the focus of sustained inquiry since the mid-1960s, such assumptions about the Middle East have come under revision in the last two decades – a reflection of an emerging ‘global turn’ in the history of the First World War. The ‘sideshow’ theatres of the Great War – Africa, the Middle East, Eastern Europe, and the Pacific – have come under much greater scrutiny from historians.

The fifteen chapters in this volume cover a broad range of perspectives on the First World War in the Middle East, from strategic planning issues wrestled with by statesmen through to the experience of religious communities trying to survive in war zones. The chapter authors look at their specific topics through a global lens, relating their areas of research to wider arguments on the history of the First World War.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations

List of Tables

List of Maps



List of Abbreviations


Introduction – The Great War in the Middle East: The Clash of Empires and Global War

Robert Johnson and James E. Kitchen

Part One: Strategy

1 British Strategy and the Imperial Axis in the Middle East, 1914-18

Robert Johnson

2 Le front du Moyen-Orient: The Middle East in French Great War Strategy, 1914-18

Sneha Reddy

3 Greece’s Entry into the Great War: Attitudes and Dilemmas towards the Eastern Question

Dimitrios Giannikopoulos

4 German Middle East Policy and the Expedition to Georgia, 1918

Peter Lieb

5 Dismantling Empires, Expanding Empires: The Turks and the Arabs in British Propaganda

Sadia McEvoy

Part Two: Experience

6 From Kut to Mosul: Lessons Learnt by the Indian Army in Mesopotamia, 1914-18

Kaushik Roy

7 Conflicting Attitudes Towards the Enemy: Anzac and Turkish Soldiers Before and After the Gallipoli Campaign

Alev Karaduman

8 ‘A Hope So Transcendent’: The Arab Revolt in the Great War and T.E. Lawrence

Himmet Umunç

9 The Third Battle of Gaza, October-November 1917: The Integration of Air, Land, and Maritime Firepower

Paul Latawski

10 Fighting for Britain, the Yishuv, and Zionism: The Jewish Legion at War, 1917-21

James E. Kitchen

Part Three: Context

11 The Great War, Egypt, and British Martial Law Reconsidered

Mario M. Ruiz

12 Reactions to the Ottoman Jihad fatwa in the British Empire, 1914-18

John Slight

13 ‘Civilisation and Competence’: Displaying Ottoman War Paintings to their Allies

Gizem Tongo

14 ‘Land of Sin and Sand and Sepsis!’ Imperial Fiction and the First World War in Egypt, Sinai, and Palestine

Justin Fantauzzo

15 Between Rome and Jerusalem: Catholics Negotiating Empires and War in Palestine, 1850-1930

Roberto Mazza


Rob Fletcher




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Robert Johnson is Director of the Changing Character of War Centre and Senior Research Fellow at Pembroke College, the University of Oxford, UK.

James E. Kitchen is Senior Lecturer in War Studies in the Department of War Studies, Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, UK.