Tuesday 5 October 2010
The Berlin to Baghdad Express...and not many people know that...
THE OTTOMAN EMPIRE AND GERMANY'S BID FOR WORLD POWER 1898 - 1918 by Sean McMeekin
I ask you, in all honesty how on earth could I have possibly resisted this title - especially with a £30 Waterstones birthday gift card burning a huge hole in my pocket?
The best description of this title comes from the book cover itself:
'The Berlin-Baghdad Express explores one of the most important but least understood stories of the First World War: the bid by the Germans to destroy the British Empire by harnessing the power of Islam.
The German military authorities had long enjoyed a special relationship with the Ottoman Empire - training its army but also starting to build the great Berlin-to-Baghdad railway, one of the era's most extraordinary engineering projects. The railway, on its completion, would have allowed the Germans to transport many thousands of troops to Asia, invulnerable to British naval power.
Yet as fighting began to stalemate on the Western front, this relationship took on a whole new dimension. With the Ottoman Empire fatefully deciding to join Germany, a hugely ambitious project began - to end Britain's hold on the Suez Canal, to call a jihad against British interests throughout the Muslim world and to bring Afghanistan and Persia into the war as German allies in an attack on British India.'
I am most certainly going to savour this one and no mistake...........
The rather odd title for this post came about as when I visited Waterstones in Leadenhall Market (famed as Diagon Alley in the Harry Potter films) no less a personage than Sir Michael Caine was signing copies of his new autobiography - From the Elephant to Hollywood. The queue was immense for the book and his signature butI managed to catch a glimpse of the man himself on the way out. I was amused though when one of the staff answered a customer when asked about how long Mr Caine would be in attendance for at the shop was promptly told '...until about 3pm, but not a lot of people know that!'
It made me smile.