A Line in the Sand
Britain, France and the Struggle That Shaped the Middle East
A fascinating insight into the untold story of how British-French rivalry drew the battle-lines of the modern Middle East.
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; François Georges-Picot a diplomat with a grudge. They drew a line in the sand from the Mediterranean to the Persian frontier, and together remade the map of the Middle East, with Britain’s 'mandates' of Palestine, Transjordan and Iraq, and France's in Lebanon and Syria.
Over the next thirty years a sordid tale of violence and clandestine political manoeuvring unfolded, told here through a stellar cast of politicians, diplomats, spies and soldiers, including T. E. Lawrence, Winston Churchill and Charles de Gaulle.
Using declassified papers from the British and French archives, James Barr vividly depicts the covert, deadly war of intrigue and espionage between Britain and France to rule the Middle East, and reveals the shocking way in which the French finally got their revenge.
‘The very grubby coalface of foreign policy … I found the entire book most horribly addictive’ Independent
‘One of the unexpected responses to reading this masterful study is amazement at the efforts the British and French each put into undermining the other’ The Spectator