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Blood, Oil, and the Axis: The Allied Resistance Against a Fascist State in Iraq and the Levant, 1941

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In spring 1941, with the Allies on their heels on all fronts of WWII, a pro-German faction of Iraqi officers offered that country’s vast oil supply to Hitler in exchange for helping it take over Iraq. That oil supply was sufficient to provide for all the needs of the seemingly unstoppable Axis war machine. On top of that, the Vichy French overlords of neighboring Syria agr In spring 1941, with the Allies on their heels on all fronts of WWII, a pro-German faction of Iraqi officers offered that country’s vast oil supply to Hitler in exchange for helping it take over Iraq. That oil supply was sufficient to provide for all the needs of the seemingly unstoppable Axis war machine. On top of that, the Vichy French overlords of neighboring Syria agreed to collaborate with the Germans by providing airstrips and fuel for the Luftwaffe en route to fight beside their new Iraqi partners. In Blood, Oil, and the Axis, John Broich tells the fast-paced story of the improvised response launched by an unlikely coalition of Allied units from around the globe and their race to counteract this dire threat before the Axis could consolidate power in Iraq and the Levant. Broich tells his tale through the eyes of memorable figures like a young American who rejected hiscountry’s isolationism to fight the fascists years before Pearl Harbor; Freya Stark, a famous travel writer turned government agent; Roald Dahl, who flew a Hurricane fighter over Syria before becoming a children’s writer; and fighters from India, Jordan, and Iraq itself. Taking the reader on a tour of cities and landscapes grimly familiar to today’s reader—from a bombed-out Fallujah to Baghdad to Damascus—Blood, Oil, and the Axis is poised to become the definitive chronicle of the Axis’s menacing play for Iraq and the Levant in 1941 and the extraordinary alliance that confronted it.


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In spring 1941, with the Allies on their heels on all fronts of WWII, a pro-German faction of Iraqi officers offered that country’s vast oil supply to Hitler in exchange for helping it take over Iraq. That oil supply was sufficient to provide for all the needs of the seemingly unstoppable Axis war machine. On top of that, the Vichy French overlords of neighboring Syria agr In spring 1941, with the Allies on their heels on all fronts of WWII, a pro-German faction of Iraqi officers offered that country’s vast oil supply to Hitler in exchange for helping it take over Iraq. That oil supply was sufficient to provide for all the needs of the seemingly unstoppable Axis war machine. On top of that, the Vichy French overlords of neighboring Syria agreed to collaborate with the Germans by providing airstrips and fuel for the Luftwaffe en route to fight beside their new Iraqi partners. In Blood, Oil, and the Axis, John Broich tells the fast-paced story of the improvised response launched by an unlikely coalition of Allied units from around the globe and their race to counteract this dire threat before the Axis could consolidate power in Iraq and the Levant. Broich tells his tale through the eyes of memorable figures like a young American who rejected hiscountry’s isolationism to fight the fascists years before Pearl Harbor; Freya Stark, a famous travel writer turned government agent; Roald Dahl, who flew a Hurricane fighter over Syria before becoming a children’s writer; and fighters from India, Jordan, and Iraq itself. Taking the reader on a tour of cities and landscapes grimly familiar to today’s reader—from a bombed-out Fallujah to Baghdad to Damascus—Blood, Oil, and the Axis is poised to become the definitive chronicle of the Axis’s menacing play for Iraq and the Levant in 1941 and the extraordinary alliance that confronted it.

42 review for Blood, Oil, and the Axis: The Allied Resistance Against a Fascist State in Iraq and the Levant, 1941

  1. 4 out of 5

    munkchip

    This book is more about men and battles than the politics of the greater war; it provides a fascinating portrayal of the time and place, but largely neglects the behind-the scenes aspects of the war. However, it was a good enough, and documented enough, book of the war on the ground and in the air. The attention to divided populations was the most interesting aspect; when we simplify the history of WWII to Allies and Axis, it is forgotten that Free French fought Vichy French forces, as well as t This book is more about men and battles than the politics of the greater war; it provides a fascinating portrayal of the time and place, but largely neglects the behind-the scenes aspects of the war. However, it was a good enough, and documented enough, book of the war on the ground and in the air. The attention to divided populations was the most interesting aspect; when we simplify the history of WWII to Allies and Axis, it is forgotten that Free French fought Vichy French forces, as well as the mixed allegiances of non-Europeans. My only real gripe was that the quotes at the start of the chapters were mostly from the 2000s rather than the 1940s, yet the link between these wars, if this was meant to suggest one, was never explored within the text. I received an arc of this book in a Goodreads giveaway.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Mark Levandoski

    Interesting blend of the telling of the strategic and personal stories related to the mid-east conflict early WW2. You will have a familiarity with most locations as they are prominent in current activities of history.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Katlyn

    It was ok not great but ok

  4. 5 out of 5

    Zeb Kantrowitz

    Once the Axis had conquered most of Europe including Greece and Crete, and in North Africa was approaching the Suez Canal, Nazi eyes turned towards the oil fields in Iraq and Iran. With control of the Levant, the Nazis could attack the Canal from both sides, and up into Russia to capture the Caspian Sea oil fields. The Vichy French refused to give the British or Free French access to Iraq, and they would fight to keep it. Here it gets very confusing, on the Axis side is the Vichy French, Luftwaff Once the Axis had conquered most of Europe including Greece and Crete, and in North Africa was approaching the Suez Canal, Nazi eyes turned towards the oil fields in Iraq and Iran. With control of the Levant, the Nazis could attack the Canal from both sides, and up into Russia to capture the Caspian Sea oil fields. The Vichy French refused to give the British or Free French access to Iraq, and they would fight to keep it. Here it gets very confusing, on the Axis side is the Vichy French, Luftwaffe planes and ground crews, local tribes that were working as mercenaries for the Germans, members of the Vichy Foreign Legion and the Royal Iraqi Army. On the side side with the British were a small contingent of the British Army (from Transjordan), the Arab Legion, the Free French, anti-Vichy Iraqis, what was call the Levies (who were local conscripts) and Indian Troops. The one important point on the side of the Axis was their air force and tank corps. The British had few planes (many were Bi-Planes), little artillery and no armor. People changed sides constantly or just disappeared into the surrounding areas taking their weapons with them. The ingenuity that the British used, and the use of the Bedouin irregulars, allowed the British to force out the Axis troops and preserve the oil for the Allies. Well writing and documented.

  5. 5 out of 5

    jonathan schwartz

  6. 5 out of 5

    Henry Porter

  7. 5 out of 5

    Grouchy Historian

  8. 4 out of 5

    Ken Megale

  9. 5 out of 5

    Jack Taylor

  10. 4 out of 5

    Sean Smart

  11. 4 out of 5

    Melissa Cheresnick

  12. 4 out of 5

    Carol

  13. 4 out of 5

    Jerome

  14. 5 out of 5

    Liam

  15. 5 out of 5

    Jon Rupinski

  16. 4 out of 5

    Hany

  17. 4 out of 5

    WW2 Reads

  18. 5 out of 5

    Inventory

  19. 4 out of 5

    Kusaimamekirai

  20. 4 out of 5

    Beatrice

  21. 4 out of 5

    Frederick Rotzien

  22. 5 out of 5

    Charissa Rate

  23. 4 out of 5

    Va Du

  24. 4 out of 5

    Douglass Abramson

  25. 4 out of 5

    Amy

  26. 5 out of 5

    Lydia Wallace

  27. 5 out of 5

    Sam

  28. 5 out of 5

    lou brown

  29. 4 out of 5

    Dayna

  30. 5 out of 5

    Kathleen

  31. 4 out of 5

    Wendy

  32. 4 out of 5

    Kim Ellis

  33. 5 out of 5

    Jerrilynn Atherton

  34. 5 out of 5

    Micielle

  35. 4 out of 5

    John Iavarone

  36. 5 out of 5

    Cathy

  37. 5 out of 5

    Brian Whittington

  38. 5 out of 5

    ROY Law

  39. 5 out of 5

    Raymond Stone

  40. 4 out of 5

    Karyn Palmer

  41. 5 out of 5

    LAWonder10

  42. 5 out of 5

    Pat

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