Jason Burke

Truly magnificent: the splendour of Suleiman I

In this luminous, erudite book, Christopher de Bellaigue tells the story of the early years of Suleiman the Magnificent, the best known and most powerful of the Ottoman sultans.It is far from a standard narrative history. Drawing on sources in English, French, Italian and German, de Bellaigue has written a gripping account that evokes an

The man and the myth | 17 April 2019

I can only remember one page of any of the dozens of Ladybird histories that I read avidly as a child: an illustration of a scene from the Third Crusade, when Richard the Lionheart, at the head of his Christian army,  met Saladin, the leader of the Muslim forces, outside the port city of Acre

Lines in the sand

One of the many pleasures offered by Lords of the Desert, which narrates the rivalry between Britain and the United States in the Middle East from the end of the second world war through to 1967, is the quotations that are liberally strewn across its pages. They have been culled from memoirs or official documents

Blind into battle

Early every morning through the spring of 2002, US troops at Bagram airfield on the Shomali plains north of Kabul assembled on a makeshift parade ground. After the daily briefing, an officer announced the number of days since 9/11, read a short obituary of a victim of the attack and reminded the troops of their