The Poisoned Well: Empire and its Legacy in the Middle East (Oxford University Press), by Roger Hardy
Feb. 7, 2017
Experts on each of the nations included in Roger Hardy’s chronicle of Middle East politics will probably find something omitted or amiss in his country-by-country assessment. Even so, Hardy does excellent work of sorting and synthesizing by clearly outlining the historical causes of the Israeli-Palestinian problem and the challenges of modernity, nationalism and Islam as they played out in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Jordan and elsewhere. A former Middle East analyst for the BBC, Hardy doesn’t neglect the voices of women and gives play to the region’s pawns as well as its knights and rooks. Hardy sees French and British imperialism of the early 20th century as one root of ongoing problems, including contradictory promises made to local populations, arbitrary borders and the influence of foreign oil companies.