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

The Great War in the Middle East

A Clash of Empires, 1st Edition

Edited by Robert Johnson, James E. Kitchen


342 pages

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pub: 2019-02-14
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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



About the Editors

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.

About the Series

Routledge Studies in First World War History

The First World War is a subject of perennial interest to historians and is often regarded as a watershed event, marking the end of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the 'modern' industrial world. The sheer scale of the conflict and massive loss of life means that it is constantly being assessed and reassessed to examine its lasting military, political, sociological, industrial, cultural and economic impact. Reflecting the latest international scholarly research, the Routledge Studies in First World War History series provides a unique platform for the publication of monographs on all aspects of the Great War. Whilst the main thrust of the series is on the military aspects of the conflict, other related areas (including cultural, visual, literary, political and social) are also addressed. Books published are aimed primarily at a post-graduate academic audience, furthering exciting recent interpretations of the war, whilst still being accessible enough to appeal to a wider audience of educated lay readers.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / General
HISTORY / Middle East / Egypt (see also Ancient / Egypt)
HISTORY / Middle East / General
HISTORY / Middle East / Arabian Peninsula
HISTORY / Middle East / Iraq
HISTORY / Military / World War I
HISTORY / Middle East / Turkey & Ottoman Empire