the Middle East

Heroism in a hopeless cause: why the crusades remain fascinating

15 June 2019 9:00 am

The crusaders’ motto rings hollow today, but we can’t condemn the Middle Ages for having different values from our own, says Jonathan Sumption

Is ‘jihadi culture’ a contradiction in terms?

28 October 2017 9:00 am

Jihadi Culture might sound like a joke title for a book, like ‘Great Belgians’ or ‘Canadian excitements’. But in this…

Mark Sykes in Vanity Fair, June 1912

The squiggle on the map that shaped the modern world

19 November 2016 9:00 am

When turbaned warriors from Daesh (or Isis) advanced on Raqqa in Syria two years ago, they whooped wildly about having…

Rabih Alameddine’s desperate protagonist is plagued by Death, the Devil and the ashes of former lovers

22 October 2016 9:00 am

Shades of The Master and Margarita haunt Rabih Alameddine’s sixth book, in which Jacob, a Yemeni-born poet with a day…

Nixon with Kissinger and Donald Rumsfeld in 1969

Niall Ferguson's biography of Henry Kissinger is a masterpiece

19 September 2015 8:00 am

I have met Dr Kissinger, properly, only three times. First, in Cairo, in 1980, when, as a junior diplomat escorting…

British officers in a modern motor car drive against the current of horsemen of the Arab army entering Damascus on 1 October 1918. Anglo-Arab policies were equally at cross purposes following the fall of the city

The Ottoman empire: the last great casualty of the first world war

2 May 2015 9:00 am

In a possibly apocryphal story, Henry Kissinger, while visiting Beijing in 1972 as Nixon’s national security adviser, asked Zhou Enlai,…

Baiting the trap with CHEESE: how we fooled the Germans in the second world war

28 March 2015 9:00 am

Second world war deception operations are now widely known, particularly those which misled the Germans into thinking that the D-Day…

View of Baghdad in 1918

Baghdad's rise, fall – and rise again

31 May 2014 9:00 am

Ali A. Allawi on the fluctuating fortunes of Iraq’s fabled capital

The American who dreamed of peace for the Arabs – but was murdered in their midst

31 May 2014 9:00 am

‘Arabist’ is fast becoming an archaism. Perhaps it is already one. These days the word conjures up enchanting visions of…

‘A dandy aesthete with visions of sacrificial violence’

29 March 2014 9:00 am

Eschewing the biblical advertising of ‘the promised land’ or indeed ‘a land of milk and honey’, the Conservative colonial secretary…

Portrait of T.E. Lawrence by Augustus John

Lawrence of Arabia, meet Curt of Cairo

8 March 2014 9:00 am

How do you write a new book about T.E. Lawrence, especially when the man himself described his escapades, or a…

A German soldier in the Western Desert in 1942 scans the horizon for enemy movements

A spectacular faller in the Benghazi stakes

1 March 2014 9:00 am

What an unedifying affair the war in the North African desert was, at least until November 1942 and the victory…