The best books about World War I and the Middle East

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a professor of history at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas where I teach and write about topics ranging from feminism to World War. I became interested in the history of the Armenian Genocide because my grandmother was a survivor. Other books I’ve written include: Women Making News: Gender and Journalism in Modern Britain; Smyrna’s Ashes: Humanitarianism, Genocide and the Birth of the Middle East and The British Empire and the Armenian Genocide. 


I wrote...

The Last Treaty: Lausanne and the End of the First World War in the Middle East

By Michelle Tusan,

Book cover of The Last Treaty: Lausanne and the End of the First World War in the Middle East

What is my book about?

The Last Treaty profoundly reshapes the story of how the First World War ended in the Middle East. Tracing Europe's war with the Ottoman Empire through to the signing of Lausanne, which finally ended the war in 1923, it places the decisive Allied victory over Germany in 1918 in sharp relief against the unrelenting war in the East and reassesses the military operations, humanitarian activities and diplomatic dealings that continued after the signing of Versailles in 1919. On the Middle Eastern Front, Britain and France directed Allied war strategy against a resurgent Ottoman Empire. The protracted nature of the conflict and ongoing humanitarian crisis proved devastating for the civilian populations caught in its wake and increasingly questioned old certainties about a European-led imperial order and humanitarian intervention.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of The Fall of the Ottomans: The Great War in the Middle East

Michelle Tusan Why did I love this book?

This magisterial and sweeping history explains why the Ottomans went to war on the side of the Central Powers and how they failed to achieve victory. It discusses the military confrontations and battlefront traumas that resulted from the decision to go to war against the Allies in 1914 in a highly readable and engaging style.

By Eugene Rogan,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Fall of the Ottomans as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

By 1914 the powers of Europe were sliding inexorably toward war, and they pulled the Middle East along with them into one of the most destructive conflicts in human history. In The Fall of the Ottomans, award-winning historian Eugene Rogan brings the First World War and its immediate aftermath in the Middle East to vivid life, uncovering the often ignored story of the region's crucial role in the conflict. Unlike the static killing fields of the Western Front, the war in the Middle East was fast-moving and unpredictable, with the Turks inflicting decisive defeats on the Entente in Gallipoli, Mesopotamia,…


Book cover of The Burning Tigris: The Armenian Genocide and America's Response

Michelle Tusan Why did I love this book?

I think this book explains why genocide happens under the cover of war. It made me see why both World War I and World War II were marked by genocides. I really liked how the author explained why the Armenian Genocide was a key event of World War I.

Balakian is a poet who turned to history writing to explain the experience of genocide and demonstrate the central importance of the international response to genocide. He uses interesting source material from eyewitnesses and official archives to trace both the humanitarian response and military decisions that brought the US into the war on the side of the Allies in the wake of the first large-scale genocide of the twentieth century.

By Peter Balakian,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Burning Tigris as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A History of International Human Rights and Forgotten Heroes

In this national bestseller, the critically acclaimed author Peter Balakian brings us a riveting narrative of the massacres of the Armenians in the 1890s and of the Armenian Genocide in 1915 at the hands of the Ottoman Turks. Using rarely seen archival documents and remarkable first-person accounts, Balakian presents the chilling history of how the Turkish government implemented the first modern genocide behind the cover of World War I. And in the telling, he resurrects an extraordinary lost chapter of American history.

Awarded the Raphael Lemkin Prize for the best scholarly…


Book cover of The Charity of War: Famine, Humanitarian Aid, and World War I in the Middle East

Michelle Tusan Why did I love this book?

I appreciated how Tanielian so sensitively and expertly described the human tragedy of World War I in the Middle East.

She demonstrates how the Ottoman homefront was affected by wartime politics, disease, and ecological disaster. When you read this book, you will see the importance of the civilian side of living through a global conflict. It really was a lived experience that continues in the memory of those living in the region.

By Melanie S. Tanielian,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Charity of War as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

With the exception of a few targeted aerial bombardments of the city's port, Beirut and Mount Lebanon did not see direct combat in World War I. Yet civilian casualties in this part of the Ottoman Empire reached shocking heights, possibly numbering half a million people. No war, in its usual understanding, took place there, but Lebanon was incontestably war-stricken. As a food crisis escalated into famine, it was the bloodless incursion of starvation and the silent assault of fatal disease that defined everyday life.

The Charity of War tells how the Ottoman home front grappled with total war and how…


Book cover of Land of Aching Hearts: The Middle East in the Great War

Michelle Tusan Why did I love this book?

I like this book because it shows in maps and in thoughtful storytelling why the Middle East mattered to World War I.

Focused on the Arab lands of the Ottoman Empire during World War I and after, Fawaz’s book shows the importance of what some in Europe considered a secondary front in the war. The end of the Ottoman Empire, destroyed by World War I, had profound consequences for the peoples living in former Ottoman lands in modern-day Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine, and Israel.

By Leila Tarazi Fawaz,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Land of Aching Hearts as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Great War transformed the Middle East, bringing to an end four hundred years of Ottoman rule in Arab lands while giving rise to the Middle East as we know it today. A century later, the experiences of ordinary men and women during those calamitous years have faded from memory. A Land of Aching Hearts traverses ethnic, class, and national borders to recover the personal stories of the civilians and soldiers who endured this cataclysmic event.

Among those who suffered were the people of Greater Syria-comprising modern Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel, and Palestine-as well as the people of Turkey, Iraq,…


Book cover of When the War Came Home: The Ottomans' Great War and the Devastation of an Empire

Michelle Tusan Why did I love this book?

Reading this book you will come to understand the extent of the suffering brought on by World War I to Ottoman society.

I particularly like Akin’s retelling of the experience of ordinary people who lived through the ordeal. Accounts of the war by soldiers and survivors of the nearly decade-long conflict that engulfed Ottoman lands add texture and shape to the military narrative that began in 1914 and only came to an end with the signing of the Treaty of Lausanne in 1923.

By Yiğit Akın,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked When the War Came Home as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Ottoman Empire was unprepared for the massive conflict of World War I. Lacking the infrastructure and resources necessary to wage a modern war, the empire's statesmen reached beyond the battlefield to sustain their war effort. They placed unprecedented hardships onto the shoulders of the Ottoman people: mass conscription, a state-controlled economy, widespread food shortages, and ethnic cleansing. By war's end, few aspects of Ottoman daily life remained untouched.

When the War Came Home reveals the catastrophic impact of this global conflict on ordinary Ottomans. Drawing on a wide range of sources-from petitions, diaries, and newspapers to folk songs and…


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The Last Whaler

By Cynthia Reeves,

Book cover of The Last Whaler

Cynthia Reeves Author Of The Last Whaler

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

Author Arctic adventurer Eternal optimist Unrealistic realist Foodie Teacher

Cynthia's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

This book is an elegiac meditation on the will to survive. Tor, a beluga whaler, and his wife, Astrid, a botanist specializing in Arctic flora, are stranded during the dark season of 1937-38 at his remote whaling station in the Svalbard archipelago when they misjudge ice conditions and fail to rendezvous with the ship meant to carry them back to their home in southern Norway. 

Beyond enduring the Arctic winter’s twenty-four-hour night, the couple must cope with the dangers of polar bears, violent storms, and bitter cold, as well as Astrid’s unexpected pregnancy.

The Last Whaler concerns the impact of…

The Last Whaler

By Cynthia Reeves,

What is this book about?

The Last Whaler is an elegiac meditation on the will to survive under extreme conditions. Tor, a beluga whaler, and his wife, Astrid, a botanist specializing in Arctic flora, are stranded during the dark season of 1937-38 at his remote whaling station when they misjudge ice conditions and fail to rendezvous with the ship meant to carry them back to their home in southern Norway. Beyond enduring the Arctic winter's twenty-four-hour night, the couple must cope with the dangers of polar bears, violent storms, and bitter cold as well as Astrid's unexpected pregnancy. The Last Whaler concerns the impact of…


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Interested in World War 1, the Ottoman Empire, and agriculture?

11,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about World War 1, the Ottoman Empire, and agriculture.

World War 1 Explore 900 books about World War 1
The Ottoman Empire Explore 60 books about the Ottoman Empire
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