The War in the Cradle of the World

by Eleanor Franklin Egan, Introduction by Paul Rich

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This book is an outstanding example of how the highly subjective and the autobiographical dominated writing about the Middle East in the first half of the twentieth century. Serious political analysis was thin on the ground. Egan was fortunate in the quality of her contacts in the area, including Lt. General Sir William Raine Marshall, who was General Maude’s successor, Brig. General Robert Hughes and Admiral Sir Drury St. Aubyn Wake. 

cradleWartime in Baghdad raises questions about the relationship between the British and the Americans in the Middle East. Early in the nineteenth century the British were apprehensive about American ships trading with the Arabs, and this suspicion of both the Arabs and the Americans continued through the years. After World War I British doubts grew. Unquestionably some of the American institutions in the Middle East were breeding grounds for Arab nationalists. 

Eleanor Egan’s book should not be read for what it tells about Baghdad during a war, but as a reminder that the United States in many ways has inherited the British position in the Gulf. The American military retains a considerable respect for British military traditions.