Elie Kedourie

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Elie Kedourie, CBE, FBA (25 January 1926 – 29 June 1992, Washington) was a British historian of the Middle East. He wrote from a conservative perspective, dissenting from many points of view taken as orthodox in the field. He was at the London School of Economics (LSE) from 1953 to 1990, becoming Professor of Politics.


He was born in Baghdad; his background was Iraqi Jewish and he grew up in the Jewish quarter, attending the Alliance Française primary school and then the Shammash High School. He took an undergraduate degree at the LSE.

Kedourie's doctoral thesis (later England and the Middle East) was critical inter alia of Britain's inter-war role in Iraq. It was refused the degree of D. Phil. of the University of Oxford, but was published in 1956. It castigated British policy makers for their encouragement of Arab nationalism, and contained a very negative view of T. E. Lawrence. He refused to make changes requested by one of the examiners, Sir Hamilton Gibb, and so did not proceed to take the degree. Michael Oakeshott brought Kedourie back to the LSE in 1953.

In 1964 Kedourie was founder and editor of the learned journal, Middle Eastern Studies.

His 1960 book Nationalism provoked replies, in Thought and Change (1964) and Nations and Nationalism (1983), by his LSE colleague Ernest Gellner, contesting Kedourie's theories on the potential eliminability of nationalist thought.

Kedourie was critical of Marxist interpretations of history and of nationalism, which he described as 'anti-individualist, despotic, racist, and violent'. He claimed they had turned the Middle East into 'a wilderness of tigers'.

Kedourie also documented and criticised what he saw as the British Empire's debilitation through over-indulgence in self-criticism. In 1970 he attacked another British celebrity, Arnold J. Toynbee, in an essay, The Chatham House Version, holding him partly responsible for British imperial abdication of responsibility for the state of the Middle East.


  • England and the Middle East: The Vital Years 1914–1921 (1956) later as England and the Middle East; the destruction of the Ottoman Empire 1914–1921
  • Nationalism (1960) revised edition 1993
  • Afghani and 'Abduh: An essay on religious unbelief and political activism in modern Islam (1966)
  • The Chatham House Version: And Other Middle Eastern Studies (1970)
  • Nationalism in Asia and Africa (1970) editor
  • Arabic Political Memoirs and Other Studies (1974)
  • In the Anglo-Arab Labyrinth: The McMahon-Husayn Correspondence and its Interpretations 1914–1939 (1976)
  • Middle Eastern Economy: Studies in Economics and Economic History (1976)
  • The Jewish World: Revelation, Prophecy and History (1979) editor, as The Jewish World: History and Culture of the Jewish World (US)
  • Islam in the Modern World and Other Studies (1980)
  • Towards a Modern Iran; Studies in Thought, Politics and Society (1980) editor with Sylvia G. Haim
  • Modern Egypt: Studies in Politics and Society (1980) editor
  • Zionism and Arabism in Palestine and Israel (1982) editor with Sylvia G. Haim
  • The Crossman Confessions and Other Essays in Politics, History and Religion (1984)
  • Diamonds into Glass: The Government and the Universities (1988)
  • Essays on the Economic History of the Middle East (1988) editor with Sylvia G. Haim
  • Democracy and Arab Political Culture (1992)
  • Politics in the Middle East (1992)
  • Spain and the Jews: The Sephardi Experience, 1492 and after (1992)
  • Hegel & Marx: Introductory Lectures (1995)

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