The Great War transformed the Middle East, bringing to an end four hundred years of Ottoman rule in Arab lands while giving rise to the Middle East as we know it today. A century later, the experiences of ordinary men and women during those calamitous years have faded from memory.Read more...
The Great War transformed the Middle East, bringing to an end four hundred years of Ottoman rule in Arab lands while giving rise to the Middle East as we know it today. A century later, the experiences of ordinary men and women during those calamitous years have faded from memory. A Land of Aching Hearts traverses ethnic, class, and national borders to recover the personal stories of the civilians and soldiers who endured this cataclysmic event.
Among those who suffered were the people of Greater Syria--comprising modern Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel, and Palestine--as well as the people of Turkey, Iraq, and Egypt. Beyond the shifting fortunes of the battlefield, the region was devastated by a British and French naval blockade made worse by Ottoman war measures. Famine, disease, inflation, and an influx of refugees were everyday realities. But the local populations were not passive victims. Fawaz chronicles the initiative and resilience of civilian emigres, entrepreneurs, draft-dodgers, soldiers, villagers, and townsmen determined to survive the war as best they could. The right mix of ingenuity and practicality often meant the difference between life and death.
The war's aftermath proved bitter for many survivors. Nationalist aspirations were quashed as Britain and France divided the Middle East along artificial borders that still cause resentment. The misery of the Great War, and a profound sense of huge sacrifices made in vain, would color people's views of politics and the West for the century to come.
- ISBN-13: 9780674735491
- ISBN-10: 0674735498
- Publisher: Harvard University Press
- Publish Date: November 2014
- Page Count: 416
- Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.4 x 1.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2014-09-01
- Reviewer: Staff
Fawaz (An Occasion for War: Civil Conflict in Lebanon and Damascus in 1860), Tufts University professor of Lebanese and Eastern Mediterranean studies, examines WWI in the Middle East from the perspective of the individual. Fawaz argues that the Great War was a socially transformational experience that, like the contemporary political transformation, is fundamental to understanding the region’s societies today. She develops her thesis with a mixture of secondary and primary sources (particularly rare personal diaries and journals), and closely follows the war’s disruption of lives and the devastation to individuals and groups it caused. Some experts estimate that, in proportional to total population, the Middle East suffered more military and civilian casualties than any other area during the Great War. Fawaz describes the era of modernity and change which began before the war, summarizes the war’s major military campaigns in the region, and touches on various individual accounts of the conflict. She also examines the impacts on daily life caused by the war, including widespread famine, increased crime, decreased wealth, increased unemployment, and the large scale evasion of conscription. Fawaz’s novel contribution to WWI studies is geared toward academics, but is worthwhile for its sociological approach. (Nov.)