A Peace to End All Peace Book Summary - A Peace to End All Peace Book explained in key points
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A Peace to End All Peace summary

David Fromkin

The Fall of the Ottoman Empire and Creation of the Modern Middle East

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    A Peace to End All Peace
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    At the turn of the twentieth century, the Ottoman Empire had long been in decline.

    By the turn of the twentieth century, the progress resulting from the Industrial Revolution had pushed the countries of Western Europe to grow both economically and technologically.

    The Ottoman Empire, meanwhile, was called “the sick man of Europe.”

    The empire was a caliphate, or an Islamic monarchy, based not on nationality but religion. In other words, while the empire was ethnically diverse, the majority of its population was Muslim.

    Religion played a central role in peoples’ daily lives. Even for the empire’s minority Christian and Jewish groups, identity was synonymous with religion.

    For people in western Europe, however, the Ottoman Empire seemed like a museum, with its subjects’ daily lives frozen in a past century. Constantinople introduced electric street lights only in 1912, for example – an innovation long common in major European cities.

    Compared to European empires such as those of France or Britain, Ottoman political power didn’t extend much beyond the immediate Turkish heartland, covering only a small fraction of the empire.

    European visitors wondered at the empire’s organization, observing that the vast majority of non-Turkish provinces were self-governed, despite the presence of Ottoman military troops.

    This political arrangement did little to help the Ottomans hold territory. By the early twentieth century, the empire had lost significant areas to encroaching European interests.

    In October 1912, Italy claimed the Ottoman Empire’s only remaining African territory, in what is now Libya. By that time, the majority of its southeastern European territories located in the Balkans, in Greece and in Bulgaria had also been lost.

    So by the start of World War I, all that was left of the great Ottoman Empire was modern-day Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel, Iraq, Syria and much of the Arabian peninsula.

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    What is A Peace to End All Peace about?

    The Middle East today is a hotbed of violence and war. Whether the civil war in Syria or the intractable Arab-Israeli conflict, peace in the region seems a far-off dream. Yet how did the Middle East become so unstable? In A Peace to End All Peace (1989), you’ll learn that European colonial ambitions during World War I were the catalyst that led to today’s modern crises.

    Best quote from A Peace to End All Peace

    By the early twentieth century, Britain had attained enormous global power with an empire covering 25 percent of the planet.

    —David Fromkin
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    Who should read A Peace to End All Peace?

    • Anyone interested in understanding the Middle East
    • Political junkies
    • Students of history or international relations

    About the Author

    David Fromkin is Professor Emeritus in International Relations at Boston University. Before becoming a historian, he worked as a lawyer and political advisor. His many books include Europe’s Last Summer and The King and the Cowboy.

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