Empires and Anarchies
A History of Oil in the Middle East
by Michael Quentin Morton
Hardback: 256 pages, 55 b+w photographs, maps
Nothing can compare with the oilfields of the Middle East, which has the greatest oil reservoirs in the world. But,
having created immense wealth, oil has not brought universal happiness to the region. The history of oil is not only
about the great discoveries, but also about the transformation of people and societies, about the empires built on oil and
the anarchies it has engendered.
This account is very different to the conventional narrative. Here
the burnt-out remains of Saddam Hussein's armies and the human tragedy of the Arab Spring are as much of the story as
the shimmering skylines of the oil-rich nations. From the first explorers trudging through the desert wastes to the excesses
of the Peacock Throne and the high stakes of OPEC, the history of oil is described in all its aspects: how it enriched and
fractured the Middle East, eroding traditional ways of life and seeing the rise of Islamic radicalism.
and Anarchies presents a fascinating insight into the historical background of the region through the people and politics
of oil. It provides essential reading for anyone intrigued by the promise and the curse of oil, as well as for those interested
in how oil has played a crucial part in shaping the modern Middle East.
'An excellent, readable,
introduction to the history and development of oil in the Middle East. following in the footsteps of Daniel Yergin's authoritative
study, The Prize. It is a complicated story but Quentin Morton handles it well with engaging, insightful, and humorous
details that bring the broader international, political, and social aspects into high relief.' J.E. Peterson, editor of The Emergence of the
Gulf: Studies in Modern History.
‘In this highly readable book, Morton
takes us from the mid-19th century to the present day, charting the history of oil in the Middle East . . . This is a complicated
area, incorporating a maelstrom of colonial interests and an emergence of US extraterritorial manoeuvring, but Morton writes
soberly, identifying key figures and making a dense subject accessible to the non-specialist. The worldwide impact of the
oil industry, nascent just over a century ago, and the machinations for its control mean this is a fascinating, disturbing
and concerning story of an industry breeding discontent from the outset.' Tom Garbett, Law Society
For the full review, click here.