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Eden to Armageddon: World War I in the Middle East Hardcover – May 5, 2010

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Often forgotten except for the legend of Lawrence of Arabia, the critical Middle Eastern theater of WWI is thoroughly chronicled in this meticulous military history. Ford (The Grim Reaper) surveys all the major campaigns in the Allied—mainly British—war against the Ottoman Empire, from the invasion of Mesopotamia (Eden) to the climactic battle of Megiddo (the biblical Armageddon) in Palestine. A microcosm of the larger war, the story includes a seesaw struggle between the Turks and Russians in the Caucasus, bloody trench warfare on the Gallipoli peninsula, a rare successful British cavalry charge near Gaza, and a pervasive air of futility as best-laid plans go tragically awry. Ford pens a lucid operational history from the orders of commanders to the movements of units as they contend with terrain, weather, and the enemy. He also pulls back to examine the political context and the personalities of leaders like the vain, over-reaching Turkish generalissimo Enver Pasha and the abrasive yet competent Winston Churchill. The result is a stylishly written, fine-grained narrative history that should become the standard for historians and buffs alike. 48 pages of b&w photos; maps. (May)
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From Booklist

*Starred Review* Many of the seemingly chronic problems that plague the Middle East today can be traced back to WWI and the subsequent failures of the postwar settlements. Ford supplies an outstanding and comprehensive account of the military campaigns in the region while integrating them into the broader political interests and maneuvers of the great powers. While some historians viewed the struggle as a sideshow to the trench warfare on the western front, Ford convincingly asserts that the various fronts in the Middle East were an essential factor in the eventual Allied success. He begins with a description of the prewar milieu, as the Ottoman Empire, the “Sick Man of Europe,” continued to decline, giving rise to nationalist agitation and outside intervention. He proceeds to in-depth descriptions of the various campaigns, including the frustrating British effort in Mesopotamia, the disaster at Gallipoli, and the decisive victories in Palestine and Syria. In a fine postscript, Ford illustrates how and why the rivalries and designs of the victorious powers led to a “peace” agreement that virtually guaranteed continued instability and conflict. Enriching the narrative are interesting portraits of some of the key players, including T. E. Lawrence, Ataturk, General Allenby, and Lord Kitchener. --Jay Freeman
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 520 pages
  • Publisher: Pegasus; 1 edition (May 5, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1605980919
  • ISBN-13: 978-1605980911
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.7 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,155,394 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Bryan Gibby VINE VOICE on August 19, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Eden to Armageddon's greatest promise is to narrate the Great War from the perspective of one of its least understood belligerents, the Ottoman Empire. It is clear that the Middle East today still suffers from the causes, conduct, and consequences of the 1914-1918 conflict between Russia and Britain against the Turks. Ford's narrative is neatly divided into five sections, the first of which gives a very good overview of the origins of the conflict, which in reality were firmly grounded in the collapsing authority of the Ottoman sultanate. His discussion is lively and accurate. He also shows how the Turks were eager to get their share of the spoils from Germany's war, and how this eagerness, born of megalomanic greed on the part of Enver Pasha, resulted in a multitude of disasters for the Ottomans. The other four sections deal respectively with the separate theaters -- Mesopotamia (Eden), the Caucasus, the Dardenelles, and the Sinai/Palestine (Armageddon). It is a comprehensive approach and for most readers, the narrative will certainly fill some gaps.

Those are the positive aspects of the book. I share some the criticisms about methodology and sources of another reviewer. I do enjoy looking at the "back matter" to find documentation. The additional notes were for the most part a positive contribution, but citations are no where to be found. It is important because perspective matters and in the WWI Middle Eastern theater, the Ottoman point of view ought to have equal time with the Allied. This balance in sources seemed to be missing.

There are many details and the author does have a particular flair with narrative.
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14 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Daniel Carey on July 23, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I read this book with high hopes and they were dashed. Not that it is a bad book but because of its limitations. It could have been a lot better. The book is about World War I in the Middle East, with separate accounts of the fighting in Mesopotamia, the Caucasus, the Gallipoli Peninsula, and Sinai/Palestine. The acounts are all fairly good and if you are unfamiliar with these theaters in World War I you will learn more about them. The accounts are from the British point of view, and at times some units such as the ANZAC units get far more space than others. Ford sometimes glosses over key points like how the British Army in Palestine had to send most of its British troops to the Western front in 1917, replacing them with Indians who took time to train.

The book disappoints in two areas. First, the separate stories are poorly linked. Probably this is because the book is largely written with British sources, and the British war effort in the Middle East was partly run out of India in the case of Mesopotamia and out of Britain in the case of Gallipoli and Palestine. The British had very little involvement with the Caucasus. The author does list Ordered to Die, Edward Erickson's book from the Turkish point of view, but very little of it seems to have found its way into the book. So each section can be read with little regard to what was going on elsewhere. If the author had talked more about what the Turks were doing then the interconnectedness of the different theaters would have come through.

Next the book is not scholarly, though some have described it that way. In fact, the author does not describe it that way. For those who think it is, while there are endnotes, they don't list sources, which is what a scholarly book does.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Homero Bolado, Jr. on September 3, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The book does a good job describing the various middle eastern campaigns against the Turks in World War I. However, it goes into great detail about the campaigns, much more than most books. For people desiring an overview, only, this book is not for them. Unless one is interested in studying the operations and generals of both sides in detail, this book makes for laborious reading, maybe even boring for some. Having said that, I feel that the author does a good job and presents a good analysis of the Allied effort against the Turks. This book is also a great addition to the relatively small amount of books that deal with this theater of World War I.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful By David W. Nicholas on April 30, 2011
Format: Hardcover
This is a strange book that covers a subject that is, in some ways, rather obscure: the involvement of the Ottoman Empire in the First World War. The title of the book doesn't make this clear, but the book is largely an account of the Turks and their opponents fighting in four separate campaigns: Mesopotamia, the Caucasus, Gallipoli, and Suez/Palestine, recounted in that order. This leads to an oddly constructed book, because the author concludes the Mesopotamia campaign in 1918, then returns to 1914 to start the account of the Caucasian campaign. Since some of the soldiers on either side moved from one campaign to another, you read of General Maude, for instance, in command in Mesopotamia towards the end of the war, then later you read of him earlier, in command of a division at Gallipoli. It's sort of a military history version of the movie "Pulp Fiction".

The narrative is very informative, and there's a lot of discussion of the impact of the various campaigns on the larger war. The author does, in my estimation, a decent job of recounting the Turkish side of things, and he does of course a great job with the British. However, there are issues with the way the book is organized and constructed, and they seriously detract from the overall effectiveness of the book and what the author is trying to say.

First, there's the issue of the maps. The book is full of them, including at least one per chapter, and often two. I never found a place name in the text that wasn't included on a map somewhere. However, the maps are just maps: unit positions aren't noted on them, and since this is a tactical study, at times, the author has units moving around flanks and across lines of communication.
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