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Empires and Anarchies: A History of Oil in the Middle East
by Michael Quentin Morton
Reaktion Books, 2017
Cloth: 978-1-78023-810-4 | eISBN: 978-1-78023-861-6

Oil lies at the heart of the modern history of the Middle East. For decades, the world’s largest oil reserves have enriched the region’s nations. But oil wealth has not brought with it universal prosperity. It has, though, transformed the Middle Eastern people and societies—enriching empires and engendering anarchies.

Empires and Anarchies is an unconventional history of oil in the Middle East. In Michael Quentin Morton’s account the burnt-out remains of Saddam Hussein’s armaments and the human tragedy of the Arab Spring are as much of the story as the shimmering skylines of oil-rich nations. From the first explorers trudging through the desert to the excesses of the Peacock Throne and the high stakes of OPEC, Morton lays out the history of oil in compelling detail, arguing that oil simultaneously enriched and fractured the Middle East, eroding traditional ways of life, and eventually contributing to the rise of Islamic radicalism. The book is essential reading for anyone interested in the promises and peril of the world’s oil boom.

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