I read this book with high hopes and they were dashed. Not that it is a bad book but because of its limitations. It could have been a lot better. The book is about World War I in the Middle East, with separate accounts of the fighting in Mesopotamia, the Caucasus, the Gallipoli Peninsula, and Sinai/Palestine. The acounts are all fairly good and if you are unfamiliar with these theaters in World War I you will learn more about them. The accounts are from the British point of view, and at times some units such as the ANZAC units get far more space than others. Ford sometimes glosses over key points like how the British Army in Palestine had to send most of its British troops to the Western front in 1917, replacing them with Indians who took time to train.
The book disappoints in two areas. First, the separate stories are poorly linked. Probably this is because the book is largely written with British sources, and the British war effort in the Middle East was partly run out of India in the case of Mesopotamia and out of Britain in the case of Gallipoli and Palestine. The British had very little involvement with the Caucasus. The author does list Ordered to Die, Edward Erickson's book from the Turkish point of view, but very little of it seems to have found its way into the book. So each section can be read with little regard to what was going on elsewhere. If the author had talked more about what the Turks were doing then the interconnectedness of the different theaters would have come through.
Next the book is not scholarly, though some have described it that way. In fact, the author does not describe it that way. For those who think it is, while there are endnotes, they don't list sources, which is what a scholarly book does. The end notes are text that discuss other interesting points. They are quite fascinating, but my feeling is that such material should be incorporated into the main text or simply left out. I wish the author had included a bibliographic essay discussing important secondary sources for each section. That would assist the general reader who is interested in finding out more about a particular area of the war.
If one is looking for an introduction to the campaigns of the Middle East during World War I, and does not care to go much further, then this is a good book. If one is looking for a scholary book about World War I in the Middle East, then one is better off reading separate books about each campaign such as those mentioned above or A Peace to End All Peace by David Fromkin or Tim Traver's Gallipoli.
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