A Peace to end all Peace - book review

"The book I intended to write was only about how Europe went about changing the Middle East; the book that emerged was also about how Europe changed at the same time, and about how the two movements interacted". DAVID FROMKIN

One of the most startling historical developments in the Middle East this century was the Balfour declaration and the British mandate over Palestine  leading to the proclamation of the State of Israel on 14 May 1948. The background detail to the destruction of the Ottoman empire by the Allied forces in the First World War and the emergence of a new order in the Middle East jst four years later makes fascinating reading. The following review is of the paperback edition of the book first published in 1989.

Documents, correspondence and books of more recent times form much of the basis for this highly readable book. The declared aims of governments, particularly those of Britain and France, often cast in patriotic or high-flown language, are revealed as suspect and sometimes downright decdeitful or marred by a high degree of self-interest.


Equally striking is the strong evidence  of lamentable ignorance or self-inflicted blindness of well-known men in authority. In-fighting within the british cabinet and the manipulation of Middle Eastern countries by the bigger powers might have been expected, but they make for sad reading.


Fromkin, and American, shows no sign of American prejudice and appears to be as detached as could be reasonably expected. (His own comment on the aim of the book is included at the top of this page).


There is interesting new light on the catastrophe of galipoli and of the Zionism of Lloyd George. The events leading to the Balfour Declarationare described and the story of Weizmann has a new setting. Perhaps most interesting for all of us is the emergence of the Declaration despite a very strong pro-Arab stance within the Foreign Office. 


A fascinating kaleidoscope of events from Turkey to Afghanistan fills in much of what otherwise might be obscure in our minds. 


This book is worth reading and for later constant reference. The footnotes are carried to the back of the book where there is also a full biography and a good index.


Harry Tennant


This review was first published in the Christadelphian in 2001 volume 130 page 423.