This year is the centenary of the fall of Jerusalem in 1917 to the allied army led by General Allenby. My understanding of this campaign goes little further than the brilliant film 'The Lighthorsemen' which includes the famous charge of the Australian Light Horse at the Battle of Beersheeba with drawn bayonets.
So armed with my Xmas book tokens, my eye was drawn to a serious study of the campaigns by Rob Johnson, The Great War and the Middle East.
The author's speciality is the strategic context and that is obvious in the introductory and final chapters. He argues that the Middle East was not a sideshow to the Western Front. it was a crucial theatre of operations for the British Empire and the Ottoman and German efforts to undermine it. The post-war redrawing of borders is important to the present day. As David Lloyd George put it:
"When the history of 1917 comes to be written, and comes to be read ages hence, these events in Mesopotamia and Palestine will hold a much more conspicuous place in the minds and memories of the people than many an event which looms much larger for the moment in our sight."
This was far from the conventional wisdom in 1917, particularly in the General Staff, but I suspect Lloyd George would be happy with this book.
The operational aspects of the campaigns are not overlooked. The author takes a broad definition of the Middle East and includes the Gallipoli campaign, the Caucasus and the Arab revolt in his narrative of the war. He covers the failure at Kut and contrasts this with the later campaign, commanded by one of the new breed of industrial generals who understood the power of artillery and the importance of logistics.
He finishes with the post war conflicts and the implications for today's conflicts in Middle East.
This isn't a light or quick read. However, if you read one book on the war in the Middle East, then this is probably it.
And for the wargamer some Ottoman artillery from my 15mm collection.