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A remarkable new book about Middle East oil


‘An excellent, readable introduction to the history and development of oil in the Middle East, following in the footsteps of Daniel Yergin's authoritative study, The Prize. It is a complicated story but Quentin Morton handles it well with engaging, insightful, and humorous details that bring the broader international, political, and social aspects into high relief.' – J. E. Peterson, editor of The Emergence of the Gulf: Studies in Modern History.

Nothing can compare with the oilfields of the Middle East, which has the greatest oil reservoirs in the world. But, having created immense wealth, oil has not brought universal happiness to the region. The history of oil is about not only the great discoveries but the transformation of people and societies, the empires built on oil and the anarchies it has engendered. Empires and Anarchies is very different to the conventional narrative. Here the burnt-out remains of Saddam Hussein's armies and the human tragedy of the Arab Spring are as much of the story as the shimmering skylines of the oil-rich nations. From the first explorers trudging through the desert wastes to the excesses of the Peacock Throne and the high stakesof OPEC, the history of oil is described in all its aspects: how it enriched and fractured the Middle East, eroding traditional ways of life and facilitating
the rise of Islamic radicalism.

Michael Quentin Morton's account presents a fascinating insight into the historical background of the region through the people and politics ofoil. It is essential reading for anyone intrigued by the promise and the curse of oil, as well as for those interested in how oil has played a crucial part in shaping the modern Middle East.

Michael Quentin Morton grew up in Qatar, Bahrain and Abu Dhabi in the1950s and 1960s. He has written a number of books on the history of the Middle East, includin g Keepers of the Golden Shore: A History of the United Arab Emirates (Reaktion, 2016).

Available from Reaktion Books (UK), Chicago University Press (USA) and all good booksellers.

Reaktion Books website

Empires and Anarchies



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Middle EastSaudi ArabiaIranIraquaeBahrain Petroleum CompanyKuwaitSaudi AramcoBPShellExxon