Fawzi al-Qawuqji and the Fight for Arab Independence 1914-1948, book launch with Laila Parsons

Date: Tuesday, 2 May 2017 12:00pm to 1:30pm
See Map
Boardroom, Arab British Centre,
1 Gough Square, London
Closest Tube: Chancery Lane, Temple, Blackfriars, Farringdon
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Fawzi al-Qawuqji and the Fight for Arab Independence 1914-1948, book launch with Laila Parsons

Caabu would like to invite you to a book launch with historian and academic, Laila Parsons for her book, The Commander: Fawzi al-Qawuqji and the Fight for Arab Independence 1914-1948.

When: Tuesday 2 May, 12:00

Where: The Board Room, Arab British Centre, 1 Gough Square, London, EC4A 3DE,

Click here for directions. 

The event will be chaired by Caabu board member and author of Syria: A Recent History, John McHugo.  

RSVP is essential. Please confirm your attendance with Joseph Willits (willitsj@caabu.org).  

You can also keep up to date with Caabu's work by liking our Facebook page and following us on Twitter. If you would like to support Caabu's work you can do so here.

About the speaker:

Laila Parsons is an historian specializing in the modern Middle East. She received her D.Phil from St Antony's College, Oxford, in 1996, and is currently Associate Professor of History and Islamic Studies at McGill University in Montreal. Previously, she taught at Yale and Harvard Universities. Parsons' research focuses on the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and she has published widely in this area, including a book entitled The Druze between Palestine and Israel, 1947-49, as well as several articles on the role of narrative and biography in the field of modern Middle Eastern History.

About the book:

Revered by some as the Arab Garibaldi, maligned by others as an intriguer and opportunist, Fawzi al-Qawuqji manned the ramparts of Arab history for four decades. As a young officer in the Ottoman Army, he fought the British in World War I and won an Iron Cross. In the 1920s, he mastered the art of insurgency and helped lead a massive uprising against the French authorities in Syria. A decade later, he reappeared in Palestine, where he helped direct the Arab Revolt of 1936.

When an effort to overthrow the British rulers of Iraq failed, he moved to Germany, where he spent much of World War II battling his fellow exile, the Mufti of Jerusalem, who had accused him of being a British spy. In 1947, Qawuqji made a daring escape from Allied-occupied Berlin, and sought once again to shape his region's history. In his most famous role, he would command the Arab Liberation Army in the Arab-Israeli War of 1948.

In this well-crafted, definitive biography, Laila Parsons tells Qawuqji's dramatic story and sets it in the full context of his turbulent times. Following Israel's decisive victory, Qawuqji was widely faulted as a poor leader with possibly dubious motives. The Commander shows us that the truth was more complex: although he doubtless made some strategic mistakes, he never gave up fighting for Arab independence and unity, even as those ideals were undermined by powers inside and outside the Arab world. In Qawuqji's life story we find the origins of today's turmoil in the Arab Middle East.

You can purchase the book here.


'An outstanding book that tells the history of the Middle East from the First World War to the 1948 Palestine War through the life of one of the most influential Arabs of the twentieth century. Fawzi al-Qawuqji should be a household name for his role in the Arab world's failed struggles against European imperialism and Zionism. In this fascinating political biography, Laila Parsons restores Qawuqji to his rightful place and has produced one of the most important new works in modern Middle Eastern history.' Eugene Rogan, author of The Arabs and The Fall of the Ottomans

'There has never been a better, more vivid retelling of the struggles, hopes, and bitter disappointments of the Arab East after the end of the Ottoman Empire than Laila Parsons's The Commander. After nearly a century, readers can finally see the post-Ottoman world through the eyes of those who fought mightily to shape it. The book is a triumph of the historian's craft.' Michael Provence, University of California, San Diego

'An indispensable account of the career of a remarkable Arab military leader whose life involved participation in most of the Middle East's major twentieth-century battles.' Roger Owen, Harvard University

'With great skill and impressive scholarship, Laila Parsons succeeds admirably in bringing to life the hopes, struggles, and disappointments not only of al-Qawuqji but of many of his contemporaries.' Charles Tripp, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London

'Laila Parsons's excellent new book combines a rare command of published memoirs with a novel interpretive reading of private papers in mostly unused archives. It tells us the unique story of one individual, but also the story of a people and a region. The Commander gives an important place to narrative and storytelling without sacrificing depth of analysis and interpretation. It is also quite remarkable in conveying the views not only of powerful colonial overlords but of the Arab populations they ruled.' Leila Fawaz, Tufts University

'Written in a fluent and compelling style, The Commander is essential reading for anyone wishing to understand both the tortuous history and the current tragedy of today's Middle East.' --Carne Ross, author of The Leaderless Revolution

You can also keep up to date with Caabu's work by liking our Facebook page and following us on Twitter. You can also support our work here