Gerald Butt

Lines In The Sand

Sowing the Wind: The Seeds of Conflict in the Middle East


John Murray 448pp £25 order from our bookshop

Six Days: How the 1967 War Shaped The Middle East


Simon & Schuster 432pp £16.99 order from our bookshop

Israel and Palestine: Why They Fight and Can They Stop?


Profile 256pp £9.99 order from our bookshop

HISTORY IS ARGUABLY the most pernicious weapon in the hands of the protagonists in the Arab-Israeli conflict. It can be unsheathed at any moment to lop the head off a promising peace initiative when one side feels, as invariably happens, that the deal falls short of expectations. So it is a brave man or woman who seeks to define and analyse the seeds of confbct in the Middle East as John Keay has done. Where does one start? Keay kicks off with an incident in Egypt in 1906 when a group of British officers set out on a pigeon-shooting expedition which led to carnage in the vdlage of Dinshawi on both sides – the first of many incidents which the British handled clumsily and insensitively in their decades of involvement there. And with occasional glances over his shoulder to earlier events that had a bearing on Britain’s bumbling attempts to create a coherent Middle East policy, Keay launches into a history of the subsequent decades. It is a story that swings all the way h-om tragedy to farce – with every step in between. It is a story, too, of colourful eccentrics: T E Lawrence, of course, and Gertrude Bell, whose home in British-run Baghdad was known to her colleagues as ‘Chastity Chase’.

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • 'The lack of evidence ... of any definitive brain pathology in cases of schizophrenia and the absence of any reliab… ,
    • 'Since Dylan’s commercial and ideological heyday, the intrusion of sociology, semiology and post-structuralist thou… ,
    • 'One of the reasons for its longevity is that it has virtually nothing to say about science and technology at all,… ,
    • 'The characters in many of these stories are trapped in the obsessive present tense of their own thoughts; in the m… ,
    • 'Libraries, for much of their existence, have embodied in microcosm many of the characteristics of the totalitarian… ,
    • 'Moss and Cynthia buy several properties through which to launder their ill-gotten gains, take lots of drugs, have… ,
    • 'Never mind the imperial cult. This is the cult of Boris. What happened to Rome?' From the LR archive:… ,