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Hell in the Holy Land: World War I in the Middle East, by David R Woodward

Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2006. Pp. xiii, 251. Illus., maps, notes, biblio., index. $29.95. ISBN: 978-0-8131-2383-7.

 A fresh, albeit Anglocentric, look at operations in the Middle East during the Great War.  Although inaccurate in holding that the Middle East is the “Forgotten Theater” of the Great World War, Prof. Woodward (Marshall U.), author of, among others, Lloyd George and the Generals, correctly notes that the common perceptions of events there is generally dominated by Lawrence of Arabia, with a little help from the Australian Light Horse.

In attempting to correct this erroneous impression, however, Woodward goes perhaps too far in another direction, as he focuses too much on the role of the Territorial Army -- Britain's “National Guard” -- in the fighting in Egypt and Palestine, with a little nod to the Australians and New Zealanders, though hardly any attention at all to the Turks, the Germans, the Austrians, or the French, nor much on  the Arab rebels or events in Mesopotamia.  So what we have is an account, albeit a good one, of events as they involved the Territorials.  There are many interesting personal perspectives, a number of amusing tales, several excellent battle pieces, and good profiles of various soldiers, among them a fine look at Allenby.

Certainly a useful read for anyone interested in the Middle East in the war, but not a comprehensive one.

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Reviewer: A. A. Nofi   

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