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A Peace to End All Peace: The Fall of the Ottoman Empire and the Creation of the Modern Middle East [Paperback]

David Fromkin
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Sept. 1 2001
The critically acclaimed New York Times bestselling account of how the modern Middle East came into being after World War I, and why it is in upheaval today

In our time the Middle East has proven a battleground of rival religions, ideologies, nationalisms, and dynasties. All of these conflicts, including the hostilities between Arabs and Israelis that have flared yet again, come down, in a sense, to the extent to which the Middle East will continue to live with its political inheritance: the arrangements, unities, and divisions imposed upon the region by the Allies after the First World War.

In A Peace to End All Peace, David Fromkin reveals how and why the Allies came to remake the geography and politics of the Middle East, drawing lines on an empty map that eventually became the new countries of Iraq, Israel, Jordan, and Lebanon. Focusing on the formative years of 1914 to 1922, when all-even an alliance between Arab nationalism and Zionism-seemed possible he raises questions about what might have been done differently, and answers questions about why things were done as they were. The current battle for a Palestinian homeland has its roots in these events of 85 years ago.

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"Wonderful...No book published in recent years has more lasting relevance to our understanding of the Middle East."—Jack Miles, Los Angeles Book Review

"Extraordinarily ambitious, provocative and vividly written...Fromkin unfolds a gripping tale of diplomatic double-dealing, military incompetence and political upheaval."—Reid Beddow, Washington Post Book World

"Ambitious and splendid...An epic tale of ruin and disillusion...of great men, their large deeds and even larger follies."—Fouad Ajami, The Wall Street Journal

"[It] achieves an ideal of historical writing: its absorbing narrative not only recounts past events but offers a useful way to think about them....The book demands close attention and repays it. Much of the information here was not available until recent decades, and almost every page brings us news about a past that troubles the present."—Naomi Bliven, The New Yorker

"One of the first books to take an effective panoramic view of what was happening, not only in Egypt, Palestine, Turkey, and the Arab regions of Asia but also in Afghanistan and central Asia....Readers will come away from A Peace to End All Peace not only enlightened but challenged—challenged in a way that is brought home by the irony of the title."—The New York Times Book Review

About the Author

Historian David Fromkin is a professor at Boston University and the author of several acclaimed books of nonfiction. He lives in New York City.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
As a Grade 11 student of history and current affairs, particularly on the Middle East, reading David Fromkin's A Peace to End All Peace: The Fall of the Ottoman Empire and the Creation of the Modern Middle East was fascinating. Despite its 500 pages, the book held my interest throughout. Mr Fromkin manages to transport us into the start of the last century, give color to the politics and personalities, and depict a colorful tapestry of the cross currents of that time.
What stands out are the massive implications and resultant upheavals borne out of the sometimes trivial decision making processes and relatively naïve decision-makers. The childish internal scuffling and petty politics in the top echelons of the British Government was an eye-opener.
Though he remains highly complimentary of Winston Churchill, Fromkin also shatters some of the myths of Winston Churchill's so-called "prescience". The author also deals in needless detail about al-Faruqi, but does not really address his authenticity. I also found his comments on Kemal Ataturk to be ungrudgingly positive.
In addition, I was unable to get a feel of the economic and social backdrop of the time. Despite sometimes missing the forest because of such a detailed view of the trees, I recommend the book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Read this now! It could all happen again! July 19 2004
It's a bit spooky to read this account of events in the Middle East during the decade that bracketed World War, while the occupation and rebuilding of post-Saddam Iraq is unfolding. The parallels (both good and not-so-good) are fascinating, almost to the point where one could substitute current names like Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz and Condoleeza Rice for Lord Kitchener, Lord Asquith and Sir Mark Sykes.
More than one scholar has suggested that this work from David Fromkin is a must-read for anyone wanting to understand the roots of the politics and current animosities of the Middle East. I'm no scholar, but I can't imagine another source that could provide a better accounts of the events and personalities from 90 years ago that have shaped (and often misshaped) the most problematic region of the world. The movie "Lawrence of Arabia" may have been cinema at it's best. But it was also history at it's most trivial. This is the real history, laced with context and the full implications of each development.
Fromkin relates in fascinating detail the various acts of hubris, misdirection, treachery, imperialism, nation building, cowardice and more that shaped the arbitrary borders and ruling classes of today's Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Syria, Jordan, Iraq, Iran and Israel. From the Young Turks of the Ottoman Empire to the early leaders of Zionism, each player in this vast geopolitical game comes under the author's critical eye. And Fromkin is impartial with both his praise and his criticism. While his portrait of Winston Churchill tosses body blow or two to Sir Winston's image, it also establishes a firm foundation for those that regard Churchill as one of the most dominate and influential leaders of the twentieth century.
Knowledge of the mistakes in the past is no guarantee that future mistakes will not occur, but it does help to avoid a repeat of past errors. This book should be required reading for any American, particularly our current leadership!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Well written and Researched but . . . March 24 2003
Fromkin has done an excellent job researching his topic and he does an even better job of writing. The book is very interesting and well written. I would recommend it to anyone interested in reading on the topic of The Middle East.
On the other hand, as the title implies Fromkin tells us that the problem today in the Middle East is based in the West nearly a hundred years ago. He details very well the inept and often corrupt dealings of the colonial powers but he stops there. The problems with the clan fighting etc did not start in the early 20th century nor are they solely to blame by the "Peace to End All Peace".
The book is well researched and written better. I recommend it to anyone interested in Middle Easter Affairs especially those who tend to agree with the assumption indicated in the title.
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By A Customer
For those that are interested in the events surrounding WWI and its aftermath, this book is an incredible resource for gaining a wider understanding the events that led to the sometimes coincidental developments that continue to have repurcussions today. Particulary interesting is the developments leading up to the Sykes-Picot agreement that pretty much arbitrarily divided up the Middle East between France and Britain; the Balfour Declaration and the conflicting ideas many leaders at the world stage at that time had about their intentions therein; placement of the different regimes in artificially created states in the Middle East; and the often conflicting views and actions of officials on the ground and politicians back home, most of whom did not have an accurate grasp of the real situation.
Particularly interesting is the section on Iraq, where some note the difficulties of forcing together a country of Shiis, Sunnis and Kurds, and to be ruled by a Christian, hasn't anyone in a decision making position today read their history?! I recommend this book to leaders dealing today with the Middle East.
Also very impressive is the strength of Mustapha Kemal and the Turks in saving their country from total occupation, an endless array of fights going on for many years, while at the same time fighting internally with the small groups loyal to the corrupt, west-loving sultan. His accomplishment, when viewed within the wider context of how hopeless their situation seemed at the outset, their success in creating a new country out of the remains of a partitioned, ruined, exhausted empire is incredibly impressive, he is a rare leader in world history who has accomplished true greatness, and the Turks are right in revering him so.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant - simply the best
The previous reviewer is, alas, the one spouting the nonesense! Israel only exists because of the decisions of Lloyd George and Churchill in 1918-1921: the creation of Israel in... Read more
Published on July 12 2004 by Christopher Catherwood
1.0 out of 5 stars Utter nonsense
This book perpetuates the myth that the present mess in the the Middle East was caused by a bunch of confused, incompetent European statemen who, after World War I, allowed those... Read more
Published on June 11 2004
4.0 out of 5 stars Not much change in just a century...
This book is very entertaining to read, spanning a period of eight crucial years for the Middle East but mainly focused on the tug-of-war between the various factions inside the... Read more
Published on April 20 2004 by WFK
5.0 out of 5 stars An Illuminating piece of work
Fromkin's work draws from a wide variety of sources, approaching the issues from different perspectives. Read more
Published on April 11 2004 by Cem Karakas
1.0 out of 5 stars Propaganda disguised as "fair and balanced"
Fromkin doesn't like Arabs. He tries to hide this behind poses that are just as phony as those he accuses T.E. Lawrence of assuming. Read more
Published on March 14 2004 by antistat
2.0 out of 5 stars Bias hidden but extreme
When you title your work as Fromkin does there must be a moral and a villain.This presents a problem for the author because historians who wish to be taken seriously can't wear... Read more
Published on March 11 2004
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent...An Insightful Look into the Modern Middle East.
"A Peace to End All Peace" is a must read for anyone trying to understand the complexities of the modern Middle East from the turbulent perpetual violence, religious and tribal... Read more
Published on March 6 2004 by N. D. Harmon
5.0 out of 5 stars Read this Book!
First let me begin by stating that I am not the author of this book. There's not much that I can add to the reviews which have been already written about Mr. Read more
Published on Feb. 25 2004
4.0 out of 5 stars Birth of a Total Mess - A Hard Read But Worth It
A Peace to End All Peace - The Fall of the Ottoman Empire and the Creation of the Modern Middle East (New York: Henry Holt and Co. Read more
Published on Feb. 15 2004 by "kellygirl1hawaii"
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding
"A Peace to End All Peace" is a book to end all books on the middle east.
The book studies the formation of the modern middle east-and the crumbling of the former... Read more
Published on Feb. 8 2004 by crazyforgems
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