View all news

Desert Insurgency

2 October 2020

By Professor Nicholas Saunders. Published by Oxford University Press.

In the desert sands of southern Jordan lies a once-hidden conflict landscape along the Hejaz Railway. Built at the beginning of the twentieth-century, this narrow-gauge 1,320 km track stretched from Damascus to Medina and served to facilitate participation in the annual Muslim Hajj to Mecca.

The discovery and archaeological investigation of an unknown landscape of insurgency and counter-insurgency along this route tells a different story of the origins of modern guerrilla warfare, the exploits of T. E. Lawrence, Emir Feisal, and Bedouin warriors, and the dramatic events of the Arab Revolt of 1916-18.

Ten years of research in this prehistoric terrain has revealed sites lost for almost 100 years: vast campsites occupied by railway builders; Ottoman Turkish machine-gun redoubts; Rolls Royce Armoured Car raiding camps; an ephemeral Royal Air Force desert aerodrome; as well as the actual site of the Hallat Ammar railway ambush.

This unique and richly illustrated account from Nicholas Saunders tells, in intimate detail, the story of a seminal episode of the First World War and the reshaping of the Middle East that followed.

Edit this page