The main aim of this book is to answer the following question: how does one account for the speed with which the Arab empire was built? The period covered extends from the rise of Islam down to the middle of the eighth century.
Historians have been treated to a wealth of bureaucratic intelligence histories over the past five or so years. Each of Britain’s three intelligence agencies have been the recent subject of a lengthy institutional history, one authorised (on MI5 by Christopher Andrew), one official (MI6 by Keith Jeffery), and one unofficial (GCHQ by Richard Aldrich).
Ask Americans when their country became the world’s dominant power and chances are most will point to the hard-fought victory in the Second World War. But as Adam Tooze shows in his latest work, that shift occurred a generation earlier and before American forces had even fired a shot in what was once called the Great War.
On the ninth of September, 1513, the reign of James IV, Scotland’s increasingly powerful and well-regarded Renaissance prince, came to an abrupt and unforeseen end near to the village of Branxton in Northumberland.
As April turned to May, the world stood on edge. From 1914-18, a worldwide conflagration claimed the lives of 16 million people and produced an additional 20 million wounded. Despite the end of hostilities on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, a final peace remained elusive – and the suffering continued.
Reviewing a historical dictionary is often a rather thankless task. Typically compiled from brief essays contributed by a variety of scholars they often lack a coherent perspective, leaving the reviewer to offer vague generalisations regarding the overall quality of the entries or selection of topics.
Just over a quarter of a century ago, it seemed, you couldn’t buy interest in the international history of the American Civil War. American scholars appeared especially uninterested in a subject that, as Don Doyle’s splendid new book reveals, is ripe with possibility.
In 1984, Ernest May published Knowing One’s Enemies which examined intelligence assessments of enemies made by various nations before both the First and Second World Wars.
This is a curate’s egg book, good in parts but distinctly not in others.