A Line in the Sand

A Line in the Sand: Britain, France and the struggle that shaped the Middle East

History , Middle Eastern History
Paperback Published on: 26/04/2012
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Historian James Barr draws on recently classified material from the archives of both Britain and France to help piece together the myriad factors which contributed to the fateful carve-up of the Middle East after the fall of the Ottoman Empire – the reverberations of which can still be bloodily witnessed today. An indispensable book for anybody wanting to understand the past and present of this enduring conflict.


'The very grubby coalface of foreign policy... I found the entire book most horribly addictive' - The Independent

In 1916, in the middle of the First World War, two men secretly agreed to divide the Middle East between them. Sir Mark Sykes was a visionary politician; Francois Georges-Picot a diplomat with a grudge. The deal they struck, which was designed to relieve tensions that threatened to engulf the Entente Cordiale, drew a line in the sand from the Mediterranean to the Persian frontier. Territory north of that stark line would go to France; land south of it, to Britain.

Against the odds their pact survived the war to form the basis for the post-war division of the region into five new countries Britain and France would rule. The creation of Britain's 'mandates' of Palestine, Transjordan and Iraq, and France's in Lebanon and Syria, made the two powers uneasy neighbours for the following thirty years.

Through a stellar cast of politicians, diplomats, spies and soldiers, including T. E. Lawrence, Winston Churchill and Charles de Gaulle, A Line in the Sand vividly tells the story of the short but crucial era when Britain and France ruled the Middle East. It explains exactly how the old antagonism between these two powers inflamed the more familiar modern rivalry between the Arabs and the Jews, and ultimately led to war between the British and the French in 1941 and between the Arabs and the Jews in 1948.

In 1946, after many years of intrigue and espionage, Britain finally succeeded in ousting France from Lebanon and Syria, and hoped that, having done so, it would be able to cling on to Palestine. Using newly declassified papers from the British and French archives, James Barr brings this overlooked clandestine struggle back to life, and reveals, for the first time, the stunning way in which the French finally got their revenge.

  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Ltd
  • ISBN: 9781847394576
  • Number of pages: 464
  • Dimensions: 198 x 130 mm

Customer Reviews

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A Line in the Sand
Could not put this down
I would highly recommend this for anyone interested in learning more about pre and post war middle east dynamics, the influence of Lawrence of Arabia, dipl... READ MORE
A Line in the Sand
Shocking Investigation
Barr has unraveled the puzzle of the covert on going conflict in the Middle East. A complex read for me, Barr has dug deep to write this book, a must read ... READ MORE
abnashi banga
A Line in the Sand
This is an amazing book with a great insight on the behind the scenes geo-political spectrum during the first and second world wars. Truly engaging and int... READ MORE
Adam Howell