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.

CounterPunchs Favorite Novels

An extremely good list of books to read:

bq. In the spirit of the times, we at CounterPunch asked some of our favorite writers, friends and columnists, including Lewis Shiner, Julie Hilden, Bill Kaufman, Sam Smith and Bruce Jackson, to send us a list of their favorite novels, written in English since 1900. Happy reading.

>> “A Summer Reading List”: