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This is a curate’s egg book, good in parts but distinctly not in others.
The comparative history of empires has become a very popular subject in recent years, provoking interesting debates on the origins of the globalization process and on the future of post-Cold War international relations.(1) The focus on empires has also provided a constructive way to reassess the role of Europe in world history, going beyond the traditional great narrat
The last century and a half of Ottoman history was marked by forced displacement into the empire on a huge scale. Between the Russian conquest of the Crimea in 1783 and the second Balkan war in 1913, five to seven million Muslims entered the Ottoman domains. Some were already subjects of the Sultan, leaving – or expelled from – areas that had broken away from the empire under Christian rule.
Early in his single-term presidency, Jimmy Carter dismissed as ‘just semantics’ a flap that arose after he extemporaneously echoed Israel’s position that any peace settlement with its neighbours required ‘defensible borders’.(1) In fact, as his aides quickly clarified, Carter had actually meant a return to Israel’s pre-1967 borders with minor adjustments for s
David Cesarani’s stylish book unravels the often sordid details of what might at first seem a relatively minor incident in the decline and collapse of British rule in Palestine.
The intention of this book is to ‘retell’ the history of the Middle East through ‘the medium of individuals’ (p. 18). But not any individuals, only those in the ‘Middle East kingmaking business’ (p. 158). None of the thirteen men, ten British and three American, and two women, both British, who feature most prominently in this nicely produced volume ‘attained the summit of national power’ (p.
Though in terms of global importance Egypt cannot compare to either China or the Soviet Union, the subjects of other recent works published by Frank Cass in which former senior Israeli officials have chronicled their experiences representing the Jewish state in the diplomatic arena,(1) the importance of Egypt as a ‘pivotal state’ in the Near East cannot be exaggerated.
Few areas of historical enquiry resonate with such contemporary relevance as the Arab-Israeli conflict, and any scholar attempting a book on the subject is walking into a politically charged minefield. Historians enquiring after the 'truth' are accused of partisan bias: after all, they must either be supporters of Zionism or the Arab cause.