David Fromkin, Professor and Author on Mideast, Dies at 84

Historians in the News
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David Fromkin, a nonacademic historian whose definitive book on the Middle East warned the West against nation-building by partitioning antagonistic religious groups behind arbitrary boundaries, died on Sunday in Manhattan. He was 84.

The cause was heart failure, his nephew Daniel Soyer said.

Professor Fromkin, a lawyer and investor, became a published author only in his 40s and a professor in his 60s.

His seminal book on the Middle East, “A Peace to End All Peace” (1989), traced the roots of conflict in the region to the creation of unsustainable nations there through artificial mapmaking by European diplomats in the early 1920s, after the defeat of the Ottoman Empire in World War I.

He concluded that those self-serving cartographers had grossly underestimated the indigenous population’s enduring faith in Islam as the foundation of everyday life, politics and government, and that they had failed to account for the Middle East’s lingering resentment of Western imperialism. ...

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