BLOOD AND OIL: The Middle East in World War I

Article excerpt

BLOOD AND OIL: The Middle East in World War I, Documentary Film (DVD), written and produced by Marty Callaghan, Inecom, 2006, 112 minutes, $24.95.

Documentary films can bring a sense of immediacy and emotional intensity to historical events that is impossible for the traditional print media to convey. Conversely, few films reach the depth of analysis possible in books. This film is an exception to the latter observations. Marty Callaghan's documentary couples the emotional power of film with strong analytical commentary. Callaghan has carefully selected and edited original film footage from the World War I period to create a coherent narrative punctuated by commentary from three early-20th-century Middle Eastern history experts: David Fromkin, Edward J. Erickson, and David R. Woodard. These historians provide an overview of a little-known theater of World War I, shed light on why the Middle East has evolved as it has, and offer explanations for the origins of many of the region's persistent problems.

The extensive combat operations that occurred in the Middle East during World War I deserve to be better known, but the horrors of trench warfare on the Western Front have long overshadowed them. Nonetheless, given the strategic significance of the Ottoman Empire's demise in 1918 and the continuing importance of Middle Eastern oil reserves to the Western and Japanese economies, understanding events in the region is fundamental to understanding our present involvement with and continuing difficulties in this area of the world.

Blood and Oil covers a wide range of topics: the rise of Turkish militarists and their surprise attack on the Russian Empire, the British naval defeat in the Dardanelles, the British advance from Suez, the disaster at Gallipoli, the British campaigns in Iraq, the fighting on the Caucasus front, T.E. Lawrence and the Arab insurgency, the Gaza battles and the capture of Jerusalem. …