Why did I love this book?
Like Barbara Tuchman’s The Guns of August to which this compares in the breadth of scope and depth of knowledge, this is a huge, rich feast of a book and one of the best you can read on World War I as well as on the formative geopolitics of the modern Middle East. Like the greatest of the imperial geographers, David’s scholarship was omnivorous but his original discipline was law: his discussion of the rashly-drawn boundaries that are at the heart of A Peace to End All Peace is without peer.
Full disclosure: David was also a friend who, like his book, was incredibly generous. I owe my book to a particularly compendious footnote in A Peace to End All Peace. It caught my eye and I became obsessed with why I didn’t know more about such an enormous presence, eventually traveling to Britain, France, Israel, and the Isle of Man to dig up everything I could about Aaron Aaronsohn. After the book was published, David asked to be introduced through a mutual friend. On meeting me, he stuck out his lower lip and said, “But I was going to write a book about Aaron Aaronsohn!” When I rejoined, “Then you shouldn’t have written such a wonderful footnote, “he laughed and I knew I had nothing to fear.