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Books, Arts, & Curiosities – In the Lands of the Prophet

Finest Hour 170, Fall 2015

Page 36

Review by Ashley Jackson

Warren Dockter, Churchill and the Islamic World, I. B. Tauris, 2014, 288 pages, £25.00 / $40.00.
ISBN 978-1780768182


Churchill and the Islamic WorldA century ago Western politicians, as this book makes clear, were as clueless about Islamic culture and politics as they are today. But then as now that did not prevent Westerners from making airy pronouncements about the Islamic world or relieve their leaders of the need or temptation to formulate policies towards Islamic societies and initiate actions within them. Even a man such as Winston Churchill, who evinced a consistent interest in Islam and could bring to bear his intense intelligence, simply did not have a deep or objective enough knowledge to appear, in retrospect, well informed.

Finest Hour readers will be aware of the extent of Churchill’s association with the “Islamic world,” and the manner in which it presented itself to a politician of the period. The Ottoman Empire regularly intersected British imperial and foreign policy and influenced public awareness of the fault lines between east and west, Islam and Christianity. Further, the British Empire’s position as a “Muslim power” was never far from the thoughts of statesmen. Churchill experienced fighting on India’s North-West Frontier and was influenced by figures such as Wilfrid Scawen Blunt and T. E. Lawrence. He engaged with Islamic regions during stints at the Air Ministry, Colonial Office, and War Office, and was instrumental in determining the political contours of the Middle East following the Great War. Later came his engagement with political reform in India and the position of the subcontinent’s Muslim population, and the travails of British policy in Palestine.

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From the Editor – “Churchill, Judaism, and Islam”

Finest Hour 170, Fall 2015

Page 04

By David Freeman, October 2015


The Middle East is never not in the news. Winston Churchill’s involvement with the Jewish and Muslim worlds, however, began well before his first extended travels in the region and continued throughout his long life. His association with both cultures greatly influenced him, and his own impact upon the Middle East remains strong today.

The upheaval of the First World War destroyed the centuries-old Ottoman Empire. Churchill emerged as the key figure in the reconfiguration of the Middle East following the end of Turkish colonial rule. Warren Dockter describes how the counsel of T.E. Lawrence influenced Churchill’s decision making.

Churchill’s fulfillment of the pledge made in the Balfour Declaration opened the way for the establishment of a new nation for the Jewish people in their ancient homeland. Progress towards this goal became inextricably linked with the rise of Nazi Germany and the ensuing tragedy of the Holocaust. David Patterson illustrates these developments and Churchill’s reactions to them. Trying, and with much success, to influence Churchill along the way was Chaim Weizmann. Fred Glueckstein describes the relationship between Britain’s self-proclaimed “Zionist” prime minister and the first President of Israel.
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