The Man Who Created the Middle East
Tuesday, October 2, 2018, 5:30PM
Dixon Education Building

Book Discussion

Author: Christopher Simon Sykes

Facilitated by: Richard Bock

At the age of 36, Sir Mark Sykes was signatory to the Sykes-Picot agreement, one of the most reviled treaties of modern times. A century later, Christopher Sykes’ lively biography of his grandfather reassesses his life and work, and the political instability and violence in the Middle East attributed to it.

The Sykes–Picot agreement was created by British and French diplomats in 1916. Sir Mark Sykes was one half of an Anglo-French act which negotiated how their governments might divide the Middle East after the defeat of the Ottoman armies. The result, the Sykes-Picot Agreement, was a series of lines drawn across the Middle East establishing British and French “areas of influence.” This secret agreement, made halfway through the First World War and with Russian approval, has drawn so much criticism because it ignored the interests of the region and contradicted promises made to local leaders. Excluding Arab involvement, it negated an earlier guarantee of independence made by the British – and controversy has raged around it ever since. But who was Mark Sykes? A century later, Christopher Simon Sykes reveals new facets of a misremembered diplomatic giant. Using previously undisclosed family letters and cartoons by his grandfather, he delivers a comprehensive and humbling account of the man behind one of the most impactful policies in the Middle East.

About the Facilitator
Trained as an electrical engineer with the addition of an MBA, Mr. Richard Bock has worked many years in the computer field, selling hardware and software throughout the world at a time when much of this technology was new to Asia, Africa and the Middle East. As a certified aircraft flight instructor and ocean sailor, Richard has learned and experienced first-hand the pleasures of these adventures.  In addition, his experience in the U.S. Air Force fed his interest in military history.

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