A brilliant narrative history tracing today’s troubles back to grandiose imperial overreach of Great Britain and the United States.
Kingmakers is the story of how the modern Middle East came to be, told through the lives of the Britons and Americans who shaped it. Some are famous (Lawrence of Arabia and Gertrude Bell); others infamous (Harry St. John Philby, father of Kim); some forgotten (Sir Mark Sykes, Israel’s godfather, and A. T. Wilson, the territorial creator of Iraq); some controversial (the CIA’s Miles Copeland and the Pentagon’s Paul Wolfowitz). All helped enthrone rulers in a region whose very name is an Anglo-American invention. As a bonus, we meet the British Empire’s power couple, Lord and Lady Lugard (Flora Shaw): she named Nigeria, he ruled it; she used the power of the London Times to attempt a regime change in the gold-rich Transvaal. The narrative is character-driven, and the aim is to restore to life the colorful figures who for good or ill gave us the Middle East in which Americans are enmeshed today.