New books by old grammarian
Lancaster linguist-turned-historian Richard Long is delighted to have two more volumes of his British Empire trilogy published.
They discussed UK rule in Iraq from 1917 and the disastrous effect on the Palestinians of the Balfour Declaration which London issued in the same year.
The Middle East has been Richard’s dominant interest since his mid-teen years at LRGS.
It was fuelled by his near-involvement in the Suez war, which occurred early in his period of National Service with the King’s Own, and particularly by his involvement in an exercise with the regiment in Libya, where he first saw the Arabic script.
This led him to go on to study Arabic and Persian at Cambridge and Turkish at McGill University’s Institute of Islamic Studies in Montreal.
When he graduated, the Foreign Office unsurprisingly posted him to the British Embassy in Baghdad, where he became convinced that British First World War policy was the root of the Palestine problem and felt that that fact should be better known.
The sensitivity of the subject made it inevitable that it would take him a long time, indeed until last year, to find a publisher (Sussex Academic Press, whose books are distributed by White Cross Mills in Lancaster) who was prepared to encourage him to give voice to these opinions.
The titles Richard brought out after Baghdad while a diplomat in six further Middle Eastern countries and, latterly, after teaching at Newcastle and Durham Universities, covered a variety of themes.
One discussed the life and works of a fine contemporary Egyptian playwright and others charted his own career of travel and work in the Middle East and introduced his trilogy with a volume concerned with British rule in Egypt from 1882.
His current project, which would turn the trilogy into a quartet is about British rule in the Gulf.
Work on it has to compete with the demands of his crowded timetable of talks about Islam and the medieval and modern Middle East.
Palestine remains his principal interest. He believes that, after a century, the time has come for Britain to seek to persuade all parties to the conflict that a solution will not come by warfare.but only from negotiation.
The new books are published by Sussex Academic Press, Brighton.