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A Line in the Sand

Britain, France and the struggle that shaped the Middle East

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In 1916, in the middle of the First World War, two men secretly agreed to divide the Middle East between them. Sir Mark Sykes was a visionary politician; François Georges-Picot a diplomat with a grudge. The deal they struck, which was designed to relieve tensions that threatened to engulf the Entente Cordiale, drew a line in the sand from the Mediterranean to the Persian frontier. Territory north of that stark line would go to France; land south of it, to Britain. The creation of Britain's 'mandates' of Palestine, Transjordan and Iraq, and France's in Lebanon and Syria, made the two powers uneasy neighbours for the following thirty years.

Through a stellar cast of politicians, diplomats, spies and soldiers, including T. E. Lawrence, Winston Churchill and Charles de Gaulle, A Line in the Sand vividly tells the story of the short but crucial era when Britain and France ruled the Middle East. It explains exactly how the old antagonism between these two powers inflamed the more familiar modern rivalry between the Arabs and the Jews, and ultimately led to war between the British and French in 1941 and between the Arabs and Jews in 1948.

In 1946, after many years of intrigue and espionage, Britain succeeded in ousting France from Lebanon and Syria, and hoped that, having done so, it would be able to cling on to Palestine. Using newly declassified papers from the British and French archives, James Barr brings this clandestine struggle back to life, and reveals, for the first time, the stunning way in which the French finally got their revenge.

From Publishers Weekly

10 October 2011 – Toward the end of WWI, as the Ottoman Empire s collapse seemed imminent, French and British imperial designs turned to the Mideast. The two war allies arrived at a simple solution: the 1916 Sykes-Picot agreement (later supported by the League of Nations), which gave France control of Lebanon and Syria, while the British received Palestine and Transjordan. Between them, the two divided much of Mesopotamia. But during the next three decades, things got more complex. The British endorsed Zionist ambitions in Palestine with the Balfour Declaration; oil was discovered in southern Iraq; and Arab nationalism led to revolts against both France and Britain during the 1920s and 30s. British historian Barr (Setting the Desert on Fire) shows how the French and British tried to extend their influence, and undermine each other, in part by ingratiating themselves with various Arab and Jewish leaders and factions. Near the end of WWII, Britain s Lord Moyne favored a greater Syria that would comprise Syria, Lebanon, Transjordan, and Palestine. Conversely, after the war ended, members of the French government facilitated arms shipments to factions of the anti-British Zionist revolt. Barr s extensive archival research, evocative historical vignettes, and a superb sense of narrative pacing produce a first-rate work.
A Line in the Sand
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  • 8,99 €
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Military
  • Published: 27 October 2011
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK
  • Print Length: 350 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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