In the second half of the eighteenth century, approximately three quarters of the Mediterranean coastline and its hinterlands were controlled by a vast Islamic power, the centuries-old Ottoman Empire. However, by the end of the First World War in November 1918, this great civilization—once regarded by Christian Europe with awe and fear—had been completely subjugated, its territories occupied by European powers.
The history of imperialism in the Mediterranean involves not one but six European powers-Britain, France, Italy, Spain, Austria-Hungary, and Russia- jostling for control of the trade, lands, and wealth of those they saw as the existential “other.” The competition between these states made their conquest of the Islamic Mediterranean a far more difficult and extended task than they encountered elsewhere in the world. Yet, as new contenders entered the contest, and as the rivalries in the Mediterranean intensified in the early twentieth century, events would spiral out of control as the continent headed towards the First World War.
Set against a background of intense imperial rivalry, Sea of Troubles is the first definitive account of the European conquest of the Levant and North Africa in the last three centuries.