A Line in the Sand
James Barr's A Line in the Sand is a gripping read about the French/British division of the Middle East by Francois Georges-Picot and Sir Mark Sykes in 1916 and its consequences in the years up to the British leaving Palestine in 1948. The intrigue, rivalries and distrust between the different British and French personalities involved in the region are at once fascinating, amusing and distasteful, not to mention the tensions between individuals of the same nationality. Here's Lord Morley's character assassination of Lloyd George:
"For veracity Ananias, for friendship Brutus, for his other qualities I refer you to Signor Marconi."
(The Marconi affair was an insider-trading scandal in which Lloyd George was embroiled.)
After Lloyd George won the 1916 election, a young British diplomat wrote:
"He creates the impression of a great man and he does it without seeming theatrical and without seeming insincere...He is a great contrast to Mr Asquith who prefers to talk of nothing nearer home than Thucydides."