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The Arab Revolt of 1917

Sometimes referred to as the Campaign in the Hejaz and Syria during W.W.I, the “Arab Revolt” was the first manifestation of their desire for freedom and independence. Occupied by the Ottoman Turks, the Arabs under Prince Feisal sided with the British and conducted a hit and run guerilla campaign against the important Hejaz rail line that had been built with the assistance of German engineers sent by the Kaiser.

The Kaiser’s dream was to set a pair of steel rails all the way from Berlin to Medina and Mecca, and thus cut the British Empire off from its colonies in Persia, India and the Far East. T.E. Lawrence, and a number of other officers, helped to harness the untamed violence of the Bedouin tribes and wield them as an instrument of “desert power” against the Turks. Dubbed “Lawrence of Arabia” for his exploits in guiding the Arab attack on Akaba, Lawrence became one of history’s most enigmatic and colorful figures.

Meridian drops the reader into a moment in the midst of the Hejaz Campaign, where Lawrence has decided to blow up a train to raise the flagging morale of his Bedouin raiders. The Arab flag, still seen flying today in the contemporary aspirations of the Palestinians, was the first banner they raised in the long quest for freedom. Sadly, the Sykes-Pico Agreement after the war saw England carving up the Middle East and creating the modern states that have been a source of constant conflict and terrorism in our day. Now the US has replaced Britain as the new Imperial Power in the region. Will we make the same mistakes the British made and eventually give rise to terror on a scale that may make the 9-11 incident seem pale by comparison?

The Hejaz Rail Line showing a typical train of the 1917 era. The Turks were forced to constantly repair the low bridges over culverts and wadis in the desert, and the destruction of an engine was a prize trophy for Lawrence and his men.

Below - Lawrence Berkeley Labs in the Berkeley Hills of California where Paul Dorland and his team built “The Arch” that enabled them to travel in time.

Peet’s, makers of the Author’s favorite coffee, was also established in Berkeley in 1965. “I drank so much of that delectable coffee while I was writing the book that I decided my characters were going to fall in love with it too,” said John Schettler. “A mainstay of the Berkeley area, it was only natural that Paul Dorland and the rest of the team would be drinking Peet’s. And my Turkish Colonel seemed to like the brew as well!”

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The Hejaz-Syria Region & the Arab Flag

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