Sowing the Wind by John Keay

A history of western interventions in the Middle East.

bq. As everybody knows, as soon as you start to talk to any citizen of any Middle Eastern country about any aspect of their current situation, the discussion quickly turns to historical declarations, long-gone secret negotiations between the agents of European powers and in general who-said-what-to-whom in 1916. There is a general tendency to enlist history and genealogy to try to explain why any part of the region, whether it be Iraq, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon or Israel, finds itself dealing with these particular issues, and the interested but perhaps not very knowledgeable Western inquirer quickly finds himself, like the judge in the anecdote, none the wiser but very much better informed.

For that reason, John Keay’s sweeping, breathless but always entertaining and acute study of the West’s various interventions in the region is going to be a great help, and it justifies its title by quietly suggesting that the net result of these interventions in the course of the 20th century was less than productive.

>> “Spectator review by Philip Hensher: Events, dear boy, events”:

The “amazon page”: on the book. Sowing the Wind, John Keay’s important new account of Britain’s role in the Middle East, saddens James Buchan in the “Guardian review”:,6121,981651,00.html.

2 thoughts on “Sowing the Wind by John Keay”

  1. Non fiction writing on the civilizations of our world in a modern yet remembrance way of thought is highly influential of knowing what happenned then even today.

    Authors like Keay, Dalrymple etc have done to make this an excellent genre in itself.

    Sourajit Aiyer, (New Delhi, India)

  2. Greetings to all,

    South Asia has always produced some of the best ambassadors of art and culture, and literary enthusiasts here are blessed with many writers who have explored various writing genres over the years, be it in India, Pakistan, Lanka or Bangladesh.

    Alongwith Mr John Keay’s contribution, another case is Ms. Bapsi Sidhwa’s edited Anthology of Stories on ‘Lahore- City of Sin and Splendour’ released by Penguin, a case in point.

    Historians call it a gateway to the central asian kingdoms, but the book is actually a better option if one new to Lahore wants to get the pulse of the place. The Lahore connection of some of the people connected with bringing the book on the shelves has given the extra impetus, which can only be understood on reading this excellet book.

    Sourajit Aiyer (,

    New Delhi.

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