100 books like The British Empire in the Middle East, 1945-1951

By Wm. Roger Louis,

Here are 100 books that The British Empire in the Middle East, 1945-1951 fans have personally recommended if you like The British Empire in the Middle East, 1945-1951. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Book cover of 1948: A History of the First Arab-Israeli War

Raphael Cohen-Almagor Author Of Israeli Institutions at the Crossroads

From my list on Israel studies.

Who am I?

Raphael Cohen-Almagor, DPhil, St. Catherine’s College, University of Oxford, is Professor of Politics, Founding Director of the Middle East Study Centre, University of Hull; Global Fellow, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, and Vice President of The Association for Israel Studies. Raphael taught, inter alia, at Oxford (UK), Jerusalem, Haifa (Israel), UCLA, Johns Hopkins (USA), and Nirma University (India). He was twice a Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, and Distinguished Visiting Professor, Faculty of Laws, University College London. Raphael Has published extensively about Israel, including Basic Issues in Israeli Democracy (Hebrew), Israeli Democracy at the Crossroads, and Public Responsibility in Israel (with Ori Arbel-Ganz and Asa Kasher Hebrew).

Raphael's book list on Israel studies

Raphael Cohen-Almagor Why did Raphael love this book?

History is often in the eye of the beholder. There are many histories, not just one. This is true in general and this statement is particularly apt when we discuss the first Arab-Israeli war. When I teach about the conflict, students ask me for an objective account of the war. My answer is that none is in existence but the closest to the truth, in my opinion, is Morris’ account. It is the best book about the war, based on maticulate survey of documents. It provides a thorough explanation of the war in each and every stage.

Morris paid a price for his honesty. I was happy to pave his way into Israeli academia.

By Benny Morris,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked 1948 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Benny Morris demolishes misconceptions and provides a comprehensive history of the Israeli-Arab war of 1948

This history of the foundational war in the Arab-Israeli conflict is groundbreaking, objective, and deeply revisionist. A riveting account of the military engagements, it also focuses on the war's political dimensions. Benny Morris probes the motives and aims of the protagonists on the basis of newly opened Israeli and Western documentation. The Arab side-where the archives are still closed-is illuminated with the help of intelligence and diplomatic materials.

Morris stresses the jihadi character of the two-stage Arab assault on the Jewish community in Palestine. Throughout,…


Book cover of Envoy to the Promised Land: The Diaries and Papers of James G. McDonald, 1948-1951

Jeffrey Herf Author Of Israel's Moment: International Support for and Opposition to Establishing the Jewish State, 1945–1949

From my list on history of establishment of the State of Israel.

Who am I?

I am a historian at the University of Maryland, College Park. In the past forty years, I have published six books and many articles on twentieth-century German history including Reactionary Modernism: Technology Culture and Politics in Weimar and the Third Reich; Divided Memory: The Nazi Past in the Two Germanys; Nazi Propaganda for the Arab World; and Undeclared Wars with Israel: East Germany and the West German Far Left, 1967-1989. My personal interest in German history began at home. My father was one of those very fortunate German Jews who found refuge in the United States before Hitler closed the borders and launched the Holocaust. 

Jeffrey's book list on history of establishment of the State of Israel

Jeffrey Herf Why did Jeffrey love this book?

President Truman appointed James McDonald to be the first U.S. Ambassador to Israel. McDonald’s diaries of 1948-1951 offer fascinating insights into the key events surrounding the establishment of the Jewish state. The diaries offer revealing and astute observations of the personalities and policies of Truman, Secretary of State George Marshall, British Foreign Minister Ernest Bevin, the Jewish Agency’s leading foreign policymaker, Moshe Shertok (later Moshe Sharett), and leader of the Jewish Agency and future Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion. McDonald was that unusual American diplomat who, in those years, supported Zionist aspirations. The McDonald diaries are required reading for anyone seeking a deeper grasp of the founding months and years of the state of Israel.

By James G. McDonald,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Envoy to the Promised Land as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Just before Israel emerged as a state in May 1948, key United States officials hesitated and backtracked. Undersecretary of State Robert Lovett told Moshe Sharett of the Jewish Agency for Palestine that the US had expected a peaceful transition to dual states in Palestine. Now, war between Jews and Arabs and a broader regional conflict loomed. Apart from the Cold War repercussions, another mass slaughter of Jews would roil the US in a presidential election year.

James G. McDonald arrived in Israel soon after its birth, serving as US special representative and later as its first ambassador. McDonald continued his…


Book cover of Jihad and Jew-Hatred: Islamism, Nazism and the Roots of 9/11

Jeffrey Herf Author Of Israel's Moment: International Support for and Opposition to Establishing the Jewish State, 1945–1949

From my list on history of establishment of the State of Israel.

Who am I?

I am a historian at the University of Maryland, College Park. In the past forty years, I have published six books and many articles on twentieth-century German history including Reactionary Modernism: Technology Culture and Politics in Weimar and the Third Reich; Divided Memory: The Nazi Past in the Two Germanys; Nazi Propaganda for the Arab World; and Undeclared Wars with Israel: East Germany and the West German Far Left, 1967-1989. My personal interest in German history began at home. My father was one of those very fortunate German Jews who found refuge in the United States before Hitler closed the borders and launched the Holocaust. 

Jeffrey's book list on history of establishment of the State of Israel

Jeffrey Herf Why did Jeffrey love this book?

As I wrote in the Foreword to the English edition of Küntzel’s work, published first in Germany in 2002, Küntzel synthesized a large body of scholarship in English and German that examined Nazi Germany’s propaganda aimed at the Arab world, as well as the collaboration of Haj Amin el-Husseini with Nazi propaganda efforts. I welcomed Küntzel’s exploration of Nazi Germany’s impact outside Europe, and its aftereffects in Islamist organizations such as the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, and then the members of Al Qaeda who carried out the attacks of September 11, 2001.

By Matthias Küntzel,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Jihad and Jew-Hatred as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Jihad and Jew-Hatred: Islamism, Nazism and the Roots of 9/11 traces the impact of European fascism and Nazism on Arab and Islamic activists. As Kuentzel investigates the shift of global antisemitism from Nazi Germany to parts of the Arab world during and after World War II, he argues that antisemitism is not merely a supplementary feature of modern jihadism, but lies instead at its ideological core. This fascinating study lays bare the antecedents of the antisemitism that runs rampant in our world today. For anyone interested in exploring the mindset of hatred that led to the crimes in New York…


Book cover of A Safe Haven: Harry S. Truman and the Founding of Israel

Jeffrey Herf Author Of Israel's Moment: International Support for and Opposition to Establishing the Jewish State, 1945–1949

From my list on history of establishment of the State of Israel.

Who am I?

I am a historian at the University of Maryland, College Park. In the past forty years, I have published six books and many articles on twentieth-century German history including Reactionary Modernism: Technology Culture and Politics in Weimar and the Third Reich; Divided Memory: The Nazi Past in the Two Germanys; Nazi Propaganda for the Arab World; and Undeclared Wars with Israel: East Germany and the West German Far Left, 1967-1989. My personal interest in German history began at home. My father was one of those very fortunate German Jews who found refuge in the United States before Hitler closed the borders and launched the Holocaust. 

Jeffrey's book list on history of establishment of the State of Israel

Jeffrey Herf Why did Jeffrey love this book?

Radosh and Radosh offer a compelling and dramatic history of Truman’s decision to support Jewish emigration to Palestine in 1947, and to recognize the state of Israel in 1948. They examine Truman’s dilemmas as he made the recognition decision against the advice of the leaders of his own State Department, including his own Secretary of State George Marshall. A Safe Haven offers a careful and essential guide to American politics regarding the Zionist issue, and to the combination of political and religious arguments that were decisive in Truman’s decision making. 

By Allis Radosh, Ronald Radosh,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Safe Haven as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“[This] revelatory account of Truman's vital contributions to Israel's founding. . .is told. . . with an elegance informed by thorough research."
—Wall Street Journal

"Even knowing how the story ends, A Safe Haven had me sitting on the edge of my seat.”
—Cokie Roberts

A dramatic, detailed account of the events leading up to the creation of a Jewish homeland and the true story behind President Harry S. Truman’s controversial decision to recognize of the State of Israel in 1948, drawn from Truman’s long-lost diary entries and other previously unused archival materials.


Book cover of Lords of the Desert: The Battle Between the United States and Great Britain for Supremacy in the Modern Middle East

Louise Burfitt-Dons Author Of Our Man In Kuwait

From my list on spies in the Middle East.

Who am I?

I am a thriller writer who was born and grew up in Kuwait during a period when the country was threatened with invasion by Iraq. My father was the Preventative Health Officer for the Kuwait Oil Company. At the end of 1960 Ian Fleming visited the country and they became close friends. At the time Britain depended on inside information to prepare for military Operation Vantage. The experiences I had of that time and of that relationship, even as a child, were crying out to be written about. Despite the Middle East being a hotspot for espionage during that period of the Cold War, there’s been relatively little written about it.

Louise's book list on spies in the Middle East

Louise Burfitt-Dons Why did Louise love this book?

This book sums up so much of what went on in the Middle East from the Second World War onwards. As such, James Barr lifts the curtain on British plotting and intrigue in a most readable and thrilling way. It details how America got involved in the middle decades of the twentieth century and much of the rivalry that existed during this period between the secret services. Essential reading to understand some of the present-day political ramifications of the region.

By James Barr,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A path-breaking history of how the United States superseded Great Britain as the preeminent power in the Middle East, with urgent lessons for the present day

We usually assume that Arab nationalism brought about the end of the British Empire in the Middle East -- that Gamal Abdel Nasser and other Arab leaders led popular uprisings against colonial rule that forced the overstretched British from the region.

In Lords of the Desert, historian James Barr draws on newly declassified archives to argue instead that the US was the driving force behind the British exit. Though the two nations were allies,…


Book cover of A Peace to End All Peace: The Fall of the Ottoman Empire and the Creation of the Modern Middle East

Patricia Goldstone Author Of Aaronsohn's Maps: The Man Who Might Have Created Peace in the Modern Middle East

From my list on changing discussions about the modern Middle East.

Who am I?

I’ve been fascinated by the Middle East ever since being taken to see Kismet at the age of 3. I travel there extensively, married into it, and have lived inside the Middle East community in the US for the past thirty years. I’m also a journalist, a playwright, and the author of three non-fiction books, Making the World Safe for Tourism, Aaronsohn’s Maps, and INTERLOCK: Art, Conspiracy, and The Shadow Worlds of Mark Lombardi. Although I wouldn't argue that the issue of women’s rights isn't an urgent one, as a woman who focuses on history and geopolitics, I’m often disturbed at how it's being used to whip up popular emotion and obscure other driving forces. 

Patricia's book list on changing discussions about the modern Middle East

Patricia Goldstone Why did Patricia 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…

By David Fromkin,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Peace to End All Peace as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An up-to-date analysis of the historical background to the divisions of the Arab world. For politics students and the general reader.


Book cover of Playing the Great Game: A Victorian Cold War

Riaz Dean Author Of Mapping the Great Game: Explorers, Spies and Maps in 19th-Century Asia

From my list on the Great Game.

Who am I?

I have travelled much of the area described in this book, including the two halves of what was once Turkestan, and on the Roof of the World which divides them. I collect old maps and books (including historical fiction titles) about the exploration of the region and the machinations of the Great Game. My book is the result of four years of research and writing.

Riaz's book list on the Great Game

Riaz Dean Why did Riaz love this book?

This is a shorter book by a well-established historian, who nevertheless writes in an accessible manner for the general reader. It is a good introductory text to the Great Game and contains a good map of the region and several illustrations and photographs.

By Michael Edwardes,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Playing the Great Game as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this era of Cyber Warfare, it's great to compare with the original Khyber Warfare


Book cover of Patterns of Empire: The British and American Empires, 1688 to the Present

April Biccum Author Of Global Citizenship and the Legacy of Empire: Marketing Development

From my list on empire as a particular kind of politics.

Who am I?

My interest in empires began as an undergraduate taking a course in International Political Economy. We were asked to view poverty and ‘underdevelopment’ in the historical perspective of European colonization but asked to see development economics as something entirely new. I couldn’t see the difference. I have since become fascinated not just by the world historical recurrence of this particular type of politics, but also why our understanding of it is occluded through repeated framing of global politics via the nation state. Unless we understand this global history we are at risk of misdiagnosing contemporary problems, and repeating historical patterns. Moreover, we can’t build a world that is truly non-imperial without sustained comparative study.

April's book list on empire as a particular kind of politics

April Biccum Why did April love this book?

World historical and comparative work on empire is on the rise and what they demonstrate is as a particular type of politics, empires exhibit certain patterns. That is the contention of Julian Go’s comparative work on the US and the UK. 

These are cases that have been compared before but instead of comparing them contemporaneously, Go makes a point of comparing them along their ‘hegemonial arc’ of rise and decline. 

Go demonstrates through comparison with Britain that a racial politics of differentiation and incorporation in the Westward expansion of the original 13 colonies is a common imperial pattern. This claim is corroborated by other cases as demonstrated by the works of Kumar and Burbank and Cooper. 

When read in combination with Immewahr and Kumar, Julian Go’s book shows what was typical empire building in American westward expansion (such as the racialized politics of differentiation and tutelary governance) and atypical and…

By Julian Go,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Patterns of Empire as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Patterns of Empire comprehensively examines the two most powerful empires in modern history: the United States and Britain. Challenging the popular theory that the American empire is unique, Patterns of Empire shows how the policies, practices, forms and historical dynamics of the American empire repeat those of the British, leading up to the present climate of economic decline, treacherous intervention in the Middle East and overextended imperial confidence. A critical exercise in revisionist history and comparative social science, this book also offers a challenging theory of empire that recognizes the agency of non-Western peoples, the impact of global fields and…


Book cover of The Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill: Alone, 1932-1940

Joe Salem Author Of Arrow Storm: A Modern Pacific War Technothriller

From my list on how future near peer combat will look.

Who am I?

My father retired from the Navy, and I always assumed I’d go into the Navy. When my fellow geeks were playing Dungeons and Dragons, I was playing naval combat wargames. I did enlist as a nukee, but I was only 17 and my father wouldn’t sign the papers. He wanted me to get a degree first. I finally did enlist as a mechanic in the ANG to pay for school, I never did go to OCS, but I always kept my passion and interest in naval history and combat. History has now come full turn, and many of the same issues in the Pacific are coming to the fore again.

Joe's book list on how future near peer combat will look

Joe Salem Why did Joe love this book?

William Manchester was such a great writer that I felt the loss keenly when he announced he couldn’t finish the 3rd book.

A writer that made the mundane soar and takes the already amazing life and speeches of Winston Churchill and frames them in a story that seems timeless. Churchill wasn't perfect, but he had seen WWII approaching, predicted what would happen, and then managed to get into power at the crucial moment to keep the UK alive.

Manchester's prose sings, and the story ends at the darkest hour. I think Britain's experience in WWII is a very good example of how a future war could look. A country fighting on multiple fronts, with insufficient resources as the forces of evil encroach ever closer.

Manchester's book finishes at a point that makes the reader ask how is this winnable?

By William Manchester,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This is the second in William Manchester's masterly 3 volume life of Winston Churchill. It contests the favoured view that Churchill's finest hour was as Britain's wartime leader, viewing his greatest period as a statesman during 1932 to 1940, ignored in Parliament and disowned by the social and political establishment as a warmonger, he stood his ground, both in the Commons and outside of it, maintaining his principles until ultimately he succeeded in drawing the country behind him. He is seen as a man with limitations who could be unkind and callous, indiscreet and reckless to the point of foolhardiness…


Book cover of Hard Choices: What Britain Does Next

Peter Foster Author Of What Went Wrong With Brexit: And What We Can Do About It

From my list on Britain after Brexit.

Who am I?

I am a journalist who spent 15 years reporting from all over the world – Kabul, Baghdad, New Delhi, Beijing, Washington D.C. – returning to London in 2015 to report on the UK’s relations with Europe. Then Brexit happened. As a reporter, I’d chronicled the rise of China and India after 9/11 and the 2008 financial crisis, but I’d failed to understand how far Britain had been consumed by the forces of populism that have roiled all Western democracies. I’ve spent the last eight years reporting on the fallout, from both sides of the English Channel; trying to unpack what went wrong, and see what we can do about it.

Peter's book list on Britain after Brexit

Peter Foster Why did Peter love this book?

As a former foreign correspondent based in India, Beijing, and Washington I found myself wanting to press this book by former top UK diplomatic and national security advisor Peter Ricketts into the hands of every British politician I have ever met.

Having spent more than a decade overseas reporting on the UK’s struggle to stay relevant, I was struck on my return to the UK in 2015 at just how myopic and insular British politics had become.

Brexit was the most obvious expression of this. It has left the UK piggy-in-the-middle, between the US and the EU and this book sets out, alongside a wealth of personal anecdote and experience, how the UK needs to think strategically if it is to retain a place at the global top table.

By Peter Ricketts,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Hard Choices as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

SHORTLISTED FOR THE PARLIAMENTARY BOOK AWARDS

'Thought-provoking and well worth reading' Times Literary Supplement

After decades of peace and prosperity, the international order put in place after World War II is rapidly coming to an end. Disastrous foreign wars, global recession, the meteoric rise of China and India and the COVID pandemic have undermined the power of the West's international institutions and unleashed the forces of nationalism and protectionism.

In this lucid and groundbreaking analysis, one of Britain's most experienced senior diplomats highlights the key dilemmas Britain faces, from trade to security, arguing that international co-operation and solidarity are the…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in international relations, the Middle East, and Israel?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about international relations, the Middle East, and Israel.

International Relations Explore 258 books about international relations
The Middle East Explore 173 books about the Middle East
Israel Explore 101 books about Israel