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234 × 156 × 26 mm
256 pages
57 illustrations
01 Aug 2017

Empires and Anarchies A History of Oil in the Middle East Michael Quentin Morton

The Middle East 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 about not only the great discoveries but the transformation of people and societies, the empires built on oil and the anarchies it has engendered.

From the first explorers trudging through the desert wastes to the excesses of the Peacock Throne and the high stakes of OPEC, the burnt-out remains of Saddam Hussein’s armies and the human tragedy of the Arab Spring, Empires and Anarchies describes the history of oil in all its aspects: how it enriched and fractured the Middle East, eroding traditional ways of life and facilitating the rise of Islamic radicalism.

Michael Quentin Morton’s account presents a fascinating insight into the historical background of the region through the people and politics of oil. It is 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.

‘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.’ — Law Society Gazette

‘An excellent, readable introduction to the history and development of oil in the Middle East . . . 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

‘Morton’s Empires and Anarchies: A History of Oil in the Middle East, serves as a concise, easy-to-read introduction to modern Middle Eastern history through the lens of the region’s largest industry: oil.’ — Origins: Current Events in Historical Perspective

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Michael Quentin Morton has written a number of books on the history of the Middle East, including Keepers of the Golden Shore: A History of the United Arab Emirates (Reaktion, 2016).