In 1920 an Arab revolt came perilously close to inflicting a shattering defeat upon the British Empire’s forces occupying Iraq after the Great War. A huge peasant army besieged British garrisons and bombarded them with captured artillery. British columns and armoured trains were ambushed and destroyed, and gunboats were captured or sunk. Britain’s quest for oil was one of the principal reasons for its continuing occupation of Iraq. However, with around 131,000 Arabs in arms at the height of the conflict, the British were very nearly driven out. Only a massive infusion of Indian troops prevented a humiliating rout.
Enemy on the Euphrates is the definitive account of the most serious armed uprising against British rule in the twentieth century. Bringing central players such as Winston Churchill, T. E. Lawrence and Gertrude Bell vividly to life, Ian Rutledge’s masterful account is a powerful reminder of how Britain’s imperial objectives sowed the seeds of Iraq’s tragic history.
About the Author
Ian Rutledge is an economist and historian. He earned his PhD in Economic History from the University of Cambridge and has taught at the Universities of London and Sheffield, and for the Workers’ Educational Association. An Arabist who has studied the language for over two decades, Rutledge has devoted the past fifteen years to researching the economic and political history of the Middle East and North Africa. His publications include Enemy on the Euphrates: The Battle for Iraq, 1914–1921 and Addicted to Oil: America’s Relentless Drive for Energy Security. He lives in Sheffield.
‘Ian Rutledge’s brilliant book reveals the folly and delusion of invading Iraq. Read it and shudder.’
‘Ian Rutledge has researched Britain’s concern about Shia power in southern Iraq, where Basra’s oil lies – material with acute relevance to the crisis now tearing Iraq to pieces.’
Robert Fisk, Independent
‘[A] well-crafted and lively account … While offering abundant detail on military operations, lines of communications and warfare tactics, Enemy on the Euphrates also makes for a very lively and human-centred read of imperial history. Populated by a remarkable crowd of spies, diplomats, soldiers, clerics and tribal leaders, Rutledge’s account displays almost a novelist’s taste for intrigue, espionage, gunboat diplomacy, personal hardship and murder.’
BBC History Magazine
‘An excellently produced book that admirably succeeds in illuminating an important episode in British imperial history’
‘Fascinating, lively and very readable'
‘The description of the military campaign is masterful, and the narrative of the campaign maintains a high level of suspense.’
‘[A] rare treasure that combines a fascinating account of important historical events with penetrating geopolitical analysis. Anyone seeking an understanding of the role of oil in shaping modern Middle Eastern history will want to read this book.’
'A sobering, thoughtful, brilliantly-written book ... Excellent.'
The Long, Long Trail
‘Much of Enemy on the Euphrates reads like a great adventure story, proving how fascinating history can be ... A rare combination of in-depth information, fairness of analysis and readability, reinforced by excellent maps.’
‘A timely reminder of how we got here … An important book’
‘A very useful contribution to the understanding of modern Iraq.’
Middle East Media and Book Reviews Online
‘Highly readable, lively and dramatic. [Rutledge] presents fascinating accounts of the main British and Iraqi personalities involved in the narrative and the conflicts that sometimes erupted between them’
‘A fast-moving account of the uprising which continues to reverberate across Iraqi politics a century later … Rutledge guides the reader through the twists and turns of British policies towards Iraq with clarity and aplomb … Enemy on the Euphrates should become required reading for officials in London – and Washington DC – as they contemplate yet another military foray into Iraq.’
Kristian Coates Ulrichsen, International Affairs