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The Great Powers and the Persian Gulf
  • ISBN/SKU: 9781591144892
  • Binding: Hardcover & eBook
  • Era: 15th Century – 21st Century
  • Number of Pages: 272
  • Subject: Middle East History
  • Date Available: July 2012
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Selected as a 2013 Outstanding Academic Title by Choice

At the junction of three great continents and oceanic trade routes that link the cities of the world, the Persian Gulf, like a magnet, has pulled powerful nations into its waters and adjacent lands for centuries. This study examines the contested history for control of the Gulf and its resources, concentrating on Portugal, Holland, Britain, and the United States, and concludes with a look at possible future involvement by India and China. The contributors’ thorough analysis reveals several consistent broad interests, including the fact that the great powers entered the region mostly to further trade, to maintain order there, and in the case of the Europeans, to establish a military presence that would protect colonial possessions farther east. Such a historical perspective of the West’s involvement provides readers with a new understanding of this vital region.

Jeffrey R. Macris, a resident of the Persian Gulf for several years, is a Permanent Military Professor at the U.S. Naval Academy, with a PhD from Johns Hopkins University. Saul Kelly holds a PhD from the London School of Economics and is now a Reader in International History at King’s College, London.

Praise for Imperial Crossroads

"...this work is of immense value on a number of levels. First it provides a strong historical analysis of Great Power interest in the region, which would be valuable to historians and international relations scholars specializing in the region. Additionally, this work is of great value to historians of the British Empire who would like to get a brief but comprehensive discussion of the development and evolution of British policy in the Middle East. The authors combine an in-depth historical analysis with a discussion of the evolution of military strategy among the Great Powers. Moreover, they analyze the internal domestics of Britain and the United States and how their policies evolved over time. It would also be valuable to scholars of American foreign policy, as it illustrates the development of US policy in the region and the implications domestic politics have on foreign policy."

Strategic Studies Quarterly

“Imperial Crossroads does a fine job at bringing together strategists, historians, diplomacy experts, and economists to create a multi-disciplinary volume on the region. It provides insight on the history of relations between the global maritime powers and the region’s state actors through the lens of international realism and in doing so it removes many misconceptions and myths brought about by ideologically-tinged analyses. The authors eschew portraying Iran and Saudi Arabia as one-dimensional actors and instead they give us insight into how the two states capable of playing geopolitics just as well as any global power. No single book can address all perspectives or answer all the questions but Imperial Crossroads goes further into the past than most others and allows us to better understand long-term trends the relations between great powers and the states in the Persian Gulf.”

—The Strategy

“The authors provide methodically researched, well written, and in-depth information and analyses on a subject that is vast and complex in its scope, giving the reader the necessary tools for further reflection. The authors’ notes at the end of the book are valuable assets, and give the reader access to a plethora of additional resources. Even if the analyses are not always of the same magnitude, the authors consistently share a concern for rigor and quality research, requiring a considerable investment of time. Together, they present a clear and comprehensive analysis of how the world’s various powers intervened in the Persian Gulf, and how this has affected the region and its evolving political climate today.”

Journal of Military and Strategic Studies

“Comprising eleven of the papers presented at what must have been an absolutely fascinating series of Gulf and the Globe conferences that were held at the US Naval Academy in 2009. While generally considered to be an oxymoron, naval intellectualism is a reality. Fortunately, it seems to be reasonably prevalent in the US Navy despite the best efforts of many of America’s current crop of politicians to suppress it. This fine collection of essays describing the past and present realities of the Gulf region prove that assertion beyond doubt. While lightly colonised, the Gulf has been and remains a plaything of the great powers. Reading the book is a great way of learning how and why.”

– Baird Maritime

“The book lives up to the quote above that it is an important resource ‘for those who are interested in going beyond the headlines and exploring the history of outside involvement in the Gulf.’”


“This excellent book will be of great interest to anyone deploying to the region or looking for a broad introduction to the history and geopolitics of the Persian Gulf.”

Australian Defence Force Journal

“As Thomas Mahnken of the US Naval War College observed, this collective study ‘is essential reading for those who are interested in going beyond the headlines and exploring the history of outside involvement in the Gulf.’ Summing up: Highly recommended.”

Choice, February 2013

“A fine addition to nautical history collections, highly recommended.”

The Midwest Book Review, October 2012

“The timeliness and clarity of Imperial Crossroads: The Great Powers and the Persian Gulf, published by the US Naval Institute Press in July 2012, is remarkable, not just because the analysis by the book’s numerous authors is so good, but equally for the vivid image which was created by what was not said… The superb compendium of interlinking analyses in Imperial Crossroads goes a long way to helping provide a perspective on the Persian Gulf, not only to the new generation which must contend for influence in a region in play, but for the local players who must now find themselves.”

Defense & Foreign Affairs Special Analysis, September 6, 2012

Imperial Crossroads should be essential reading for any military and maritime practitioner in this strategically vital and complicated part of the world.  I wish it had been available when I first deployed to the Gulf in 1968.”

—Admiral Sir Jonathon Band GCB, First Sea Lord and Chief of Naval Staff UK (2006–2009)

"A superb collection explaining clearly why the world's great powers have consistently recognized their prosperity and security are tied directly to the Persian Gulf. Macris and Kelly have not only woven together past interests but have made the critical connection to South and East Asia, which must be understood by present and future policy makers."

—Admiral Thomas B Fargo, USN (Ret.), Former Commander U.S. Pacific Command and Naval Central Command and John M. Shalikashvili Chair in National Security Studies, The National Bureau of Asian Research (NBR)

"This volume is essential reading for those who are interested in going beyond the headlines and exploring the history of outside involvement in the Gulf.  It will be a valuable resources for scholars for years to come."

—Thomas G. Mahnken, Jerome E. Levy Chair in Economic Geography and National Security, U.S. Naval War College.

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