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New Scholarship on World War I, 2000–2014: Middle East

By Frederic Krome

Middle East

While it may be an exaggeration to say that World War I created the modern Middle East (after all, the Sunni-Shi’a divide and the region’s ethnic tensions are centuries old), it is fair to assert that modern political boundaries—and, consequently, many of the unresolved issues that continue to dominate the news today—are the result of the war.  Charles Townshend, in Desert Hell: The British Invasion of Mesopotamia, provides a campaign history of the British army in what eventually became Iraq.  In addition to the battles and the logistical challenges, Townshend describes the experiences of the common soldier in route march, combat, and captivity.

Almost as soon as the ill-fated Dardanelles Campaign ended, the counterfactual assertions began.  In many ways, discussion of the Gallipoli Campaign is a mirror of the arguments over the viability of the Schlieffen Plan; the basic assumption is that had the planning been better or the leadership more assertive, the campaign could have been won and the Ottomans knocked out of the war.  Robin Prior’s Gallipoli: The End of the Myth is a strategic and operational study that seeks to dispel the myths and questions not only the basic assumption that the campaign could ever have succeeded, but that it would have led to the Turks asking for an armistice.  Victor Rudenno, Gallipoli: Attack from the Sea, reaches a similar conclusion, but focuses on the naval aspects of the campaign, particularly the use of submarines.

Works Cited