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I am an avid student of history and in particular the period involving World War I. In my many years of studying the war, I have never listened to an audio book that covered the war in the Middle East in full. Sure a number of good books have been written about the Gallipoli campaign (see the audio book by Peter Hart on the subject offered by Audible) and the Arab Revolt (TE Lawrence a/k/a Lawrence of Arabia- see Hero by Michael Korda also offered by Audible), but nothing has really put all of it into perspective in light of the Ottoman Empire's participation in the war. This book changed my perception and is well worth the listen.
The book begins in approximately 1876 as the Ottoman Sultanate enters its last phase of absolute power vested in the Sultan and follows through to the war with the Italians (over Libya), the First and Second Balkan Wars (1912 & 1913) and then the empire's entry into World War I and its demise. Along with way the listener is introduced to key historical persons such as the Committee of Union and Progress (CUP) or Young Turks consisting of the triumvirate of Enver, Talaat, and Djemal who drove the Empire into destruction as well as Mustapha Kemal who led what was left of the empire out of its ashes to form modern Turkey. What made the book stand out was the way in which it put the Gallipoli invasion and the Arab Revolt (along with TE Lawrence) into context in terms of how all of this related to the war against the Ottomans. It also brought to light several things I never understood about the war in Middle East theatre. The Ottoman Empire was considered to be the weakest of the Central Powers and the Allied Powers thought that they could defeat the Ottomans more easily especially given the Ottoman army's performance in the first winter of the war. This led to the failed British invasion of Gallipoli (poorly managed by the British) and the invasion of Mesopotamia (i.e. Iraq) which led to the British humiliating surrender at Kut. It was only when the British realized that they could not defeat the Ottomans alone that they turned to the Arabs to plan the revolt in the desert. The book also also did a good job in describing how the Ottoman surrender led to the formation of the Middle East as we now know it.
Overall I thought the book was well written and interesting, Derek Perkins did a good job with the narration. Although the material may be somewhat dry to listeners who do not have a current interest in or are new to this area of the war, I believe that this book is a great addition to the Audible library and I recommend it to anyone who wants to understand the modern Middle East and Balkans and how the Ottoman Empire and its demise influenced these regions to this day.
48 of 49 people found this review helpful
Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?
I thought I had a reasonable knowledge about WW1. After listening to this book I had to think again. This well told story gave me an entirely new dimension to the conflict. Also an excellent background to why that part of the world is still in so much turmoil. Highly recommend!
14 of 14 people found this review helpful