James Barr – A line in the sand

21. Oktober 2017 - 20:52 Uhr

History par excellence

A brilliant tale and a must read for everyone who wants to know why there is still war and hate in Palestine and Israel. „…that no one would be so stupid as to pursue a policy that was bound to cause trouble between the Arabs an the Jews.“
History can be boring when you are just presented with the facts or you have to sit in a class and listen to the teacher telling this and that. No wonder you cannot or want to remember what had happened. But history can also be very interesting when you are presented with background information and it can even be exciting when the facts are made up into a great story.
And this is what makes „A line in the sand“ so fantastic. When you read it the history seems to unfold in front of you on a big screen.
„Late in the morning of 16 December 1915…“, from here we wander through a world we think we know but i am sure you do not know the real story why Isreal was founded and why there is still hate between Jews and Muslims although they share so many values. Before the Israelis got their own country they used the same guerilla tactis the Palestinan now use. Would you guess a lot of the worries comes from the mistrust of two allies, two friends?
So it begins with two men simply drawing a line in the sand or better said on a paper, „…drawn in a fairly unclear way on paper without regard to the territory of the tribes or the lie of the sand.“ This two men were Sir Mark Sykes from England and Francois Georges-Picot from France. No they did not want to solve a dilemma after the first world war and the collapse of the Ottoman empire. They had other things in mind like it always is in politics.
There are many more figures you will find in this brilliant book. Getrude Bell, Sir Winston Churchill, David Ben-Gurion, Ibn Saud, Menachem Begin, Charles de Gaulle, King Feisal and T. E. Lawrence well known as Lawrence of Arabia.
As already mentioned the story is brilliant but with more figures appearing sometimes you might get a little lost. But not for too long. The suspense and action will bring you back.
Back to the mistrust of the friends. The french and the british ad a quarrel in Faschoda – now in South Sudan – long before the line in the sand was drawn. Two imperial powers fighting for the ressources of a foreign land. The british won and later in the first and the second world war they were allies but now the distrust was there.
And like in a bad marriage neither partner wanted the other to get the honey. Yes they drew the line but they forgot one thing. „The assumption was that the Arabs were essentially a nomadic people who would be prepared to leave.“ But the natives had their own plans and the british and the french used them for their goal. But things sometimes take another direction.
„…not your…or my business…to interfere in other people‘s countries and tell them how to run it.“
The author Alexander James Barr studied modern history at the Lincoln college in Oxford. „A line in the sand“ is his second book. And as he writes in the acknowledgement it took him four years to complete his book. In this four years he studied a lot of papers.

James Barr: A line in the sand. Simon & Schuster UK Ltd.. London 2012. 454 pgs.