Title: The Fall of the Ottomans: The Great War in the Middle East
By: Eugene Rogan
Paperback: 512 pages
Publisher: Basic Books (October 4, 2016)
Finished reading “The Fall of the Ottomans: The Great War in the Middle East” by Eugene Rogan published by Basic Books. This is a short review about it.
Growing up in Iran reading history it is easy to miss World War I. In many history books it is discussed within the context of Constitutional Revolution. Iran, first divided into zones of influence by Great Britain and Russia, became a battle ground for Russians, British and Ottomans. Constitutionalists, nationalists and separatists aligned with forces more friendly to their cause. Iran suffered repeated injuries with no power to do anything. The government did not choose side and suffered humiliation for it in Versailles, when Lord Curzon accused Iranian diplomats of being opportunists. Thus reading this book was an eye opener for me.
Rogan covers a sophisticated empire at its most perilous moment. Ottomans reluctant to enter the war at the beginning, bankrupt from losses in Balkan wars and weary of Russian aggressions could not have any misgiving about their fortunes. And yet Ottoman soldiers and officers fought bravely. It is interesting to remember that in the World War I Ottoman Empire was the only empire to fight on 3-4 fronts at any given time, stretching from Dardanelles to Red Sea. The task was daunting and they managed until the very end to keep their lines, inflicting set backs and defeats on British and Commonwealth forces as well as Tsar Army. However when the Axis fell apart Ottomans could not have held any longer. Rogan covers battlefields and the players most masterfully.
I recommend reading this book to anyone who would like to understand modern Turkey’s position in the region, particularly in Iraq and Syria. Remember in a region as old as the Middle East 100 years can be yesterday.