James Barr is the author of “A Line in the Sand” – a riveting book on how British and French diplomats re-made the map of the Middle East during and after the First World War.
This British historian tells a tale of hubris and political skulduggery, as two colonial powers cooked up the 1916 Sykes-Picot Agreement, dividing the region by drawing a line across Syria, from the Mediterranean to the Persian frontier.
Now Barr has written a follow-on book – Lords of the Desert – about the UK and America competing for influence across the Arab World during and after the Second World War.
“People have been fighting over Syria for as long as we have written records,” he says, during this wide-ranging discussion on post-colonialism and pipeline politics. Amidst today’s tragic Syrian conflict, with foreign powers still vying to control the region, Barr’s beautifully written books are of huge relevance.