The Arab Revolt 1916-18 by David Murphy

I don’t know much about the battles fought by the Arabs and their British allies against the Turks of the Ottoman Empire except for what I have heard about Lawrence of Arabia.  The Arab Revolt 1916-18: Lawrence Sets Arabia Ablaze by David Murphy provides some excellent insight on this topic.  Murphy writes a succinct, balanced account in 93 pages.

Here is a brief synopsis of the book from the publisher’s website:

The Arab Revolt of 1916–18 was one of the most dramatic events of World War I.  It resulted in the birth of the modern Middle East and also created one of the most enduring myths of the war: the story of Lawrence of Arabia.  This book examines the revolt, describing and analyzing the background and events of the uprising.  Breaking the process into several broad phases, the author examines the initial capture of coastal towns like Jeddah, followed by the raids on the Hijaz Railway, the seizure of Aqaba and the northward push of the Arab Army at Gaza, Jerusalem, Megiddo and Damascus.  Finally, this book describes how a local Arab rebellion grew to form a major part of Allied operations in the Middle East, as Arab tribesman who were merely troublesome raiders developed into a force which could oppose brigade-sized Turkish columns by 1918.

Murphy provides an excellent narrative of how the British and French supplanted the Ottoman Turks as the rulers of the Middle East (and how this caused a large rift between the Arabs and the British and French once the Arabs realized what was going on).  He also shows how some the most influential Arab players in the Middle East came to be so important – many were involved in the Arab Revolt – families such as the Husseins (Syria) and the Sauds (this is provided in a section entitled “Legacy of the Arab Revolt” which is divided into parts about Palestine, Jordan, Syria, Iraq, and the Hejaz (mainly Saudi Arabia).  Finally, Murphy discusses the fate of the most famous man from the Revolt – Lawrence of Arabia – it is quite a sad story.

This book is an excellent resource for any person interested in the Arab Revolt in World War I.

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