Book Review: The Great War in the Middle East: A Clash of Empires


by Robert Johnson and James E. Kitchen, editors

New York: Routledge, 2019. Pp. xxii, 344. Illus., maps, tables, notes, index. $149.95. ISBN: 1138731331

Complexities of the Great War in the Middle East

This volume comprises an introduction and fifteen papers that were presented at a conference held in Britain intended to take a fresh look at events in the Middle East during W. W. I. The papers fall into three categories, “Strategy”, “Experience”, and “Context”.

The papers on strategy are very good. There are individual essays on British, French, Greek, and Germany, plus one on British propaganda related to the theatre. The paper on Greek strategy is valuable because Greek participation in the war is frequently overlooked. That on Germany is quite interesting, the author arguing, rather effectively, that Germany kept millions of Allied troops from the Western Front at small cost to itself.

Papers in the second part cover the Indian Army in Mesopotamia, the evolution of ANZAC and Turkish perceptions of each other before and after Gallipoli, a particularly good essay, the Third Battle of Gaza as an “all arms” undertaking, and the Jewish Legion, another very good paper.

The final part includes papers on British governance of Egypt during the war, the failure of the Ottoman effort to foment “Jihad” against the allies, Ottoman use of art in their propaganda efforts with their Allies, British fictional accounts of was in the theatre, and the Roman Catholic role in the theatre from the mid-nineteenth century through the mid-twentieth.

The most significant flaw in volume is that while the Ottomans are touched upon in several essays, there is no paper specifically concerning Ottoman strategy. In addition, the Italian role in the theatre is wholly ignored.

Nevertheless, The Great War in the Middle East, a volume in the Routledge series “Studies in First World War History”, is useful read for scholars of the Allied effort in the theater.


Note: The Great War in the Middle East is also available in several e-editions.


StrategyPage reviews are published in cooperation with The New York Military Affairs Symposium


Reviewer: A. A. Nofi, Review Editor   

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