A Line in the Sand

Britain, France and the struggle that shaped the Middle East
Narrated by: Peter Noble
Length: 15 hrs and 7 mins
Categories: History, European
5 out of 5 stars (13 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

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. The deal they struck, which was designed to relieve tensions that threatened to engulf the Entente Cordiale, drew a line in the sand from the Mediterranean to the Persian frontier. Territory north of that stark line would go to France; land south of it, to Britain. Against the odds their pact survived the war to form the basis for the postwar division of the region into five new countries Britain and France would rule. The creation of Britain's 'mandates' of Palestine, Transjordan and Iraq, and France's in Lebanon and Syria, made the two powers uneasy neighbours for the following 30 years.

Through a stellar cast of politicians, diplomats, spies and soldiers, including T. E. Lawrence, Winston Churchill and Charles de Gaulle, A Line in the Sand vividly tells the story of the short but crucial era when Britain and France ruled the Middle East. It explains exactly how the old antagonism between these two powers inflamed the more familiar modern rivalry between the Arabs and the Jews and ultimately led to war between the British and the French in 1941 and between the Arabs and the Jews in 1948.

In 1946, after many years of intrigue and espionage, Britain finally succeeded in ousting France from Lebanon and Syria and hoped that, having done so, it would be able to cling on to Palestine. Using newly declassified papers from the British and French archives, James Barr brings this overlooked clandestine struggle back to life and reveals, for the first time, the stunning way in which the French finally got their revenge.

©2011 James Barr (P)2018 Simon & Schuster, UK

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Really enjoyable book

I found this book additive. Really enjoyed it. I learnt a great deal from this book.

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good research on the previously ignored topic

it was well researched and well written book on the subject conventional historiography somehow refused to recognize. a lot of new facts and details

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  • Mohammed Abdul-Hamid
  • 07-08-19

Eloquent and well formed

A well written book with great detail. Highly enjoyable listen. A must for anyone interested in this period.

13 people found this helpful

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  • Charles King-Tenison
  • 08-14-19

An absolute Perfection

For anyone with an interest in the Middle East this book gives a fantastic insight to an incredible interesting period of history, often overlooked.

I would recommend having a basic understanding of the Middle East, Tribalism and Islam as that may help you enjoy the book as a whole more.

16 people found this helpful

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  • Hoops
  • 01-07-19

Very few emerge with glory.

No wonder Middle-East such a mess. All sides equally to blame. Great book, well narrated.

14 people found this helpful

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  • R. Maines
  • 09-06-19

A learning experience.

I did not know much about this period of history and this book filled many gaps in my knowledge of the area. Well written and rather sobering on the actions of the French and Britain in the Middle East.

Narration was good.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 08-29-19

Eye opening

Unbiased clarity on a situation that leaves nobody in a good light and is as applicable today as it was 100 years ago.

Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it

6 people found this helpful

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  • Mike
  • 10-22-19

Great introduction to a complex issue

Well researched, well structured history book written so masterfully, it will leave you wanting more. As a complete layman in terms of geopolitics, I found myself researching more and more figures and topics related to the subject. The reading was pleasant, engaging and well produced. Wholehartedly recommend!

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  • David Roberts
  • 02-14-20

Food for thought

An Oriental understanding, yet very descriptive, an excellent listen that fills many gaps - providing a brilliant introduction to the M.E of that time. Highly recommend.

1 person found this helpful

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  • S. Peacock
  • 02-13-20

A book I've long waited for

For a long while I've wanted to read about how the current state of affairs came about in the Levant, and this book does that job well without the usual partisan take on the history of the region. James Barr seems to have a certain disdain for all the protagonists in the story rather than writing from the position of a supporter of one or other group as is often the case.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 02-12-20

Fascinating book

Really interesting history of the division of the Ottoman empire and the creation of Isreal and other countries on the middle East. Extremely well narrated

1 person found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 02-04-20

Evil Empires

The age of empires and the evil machinations that sustained them for centuries. Absolutely gripping material. Thank you for a great book.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Bruce Mason
  • 02-12-19

A great read through of a deeply interesting era

Absolutely fascinating. Thoroughly enjoyed and highly recommend. A detailed account of troubles that remain to this day.