Constable, 1st ed., 2006. Xiii + 336 pp., 5 maps. D.j., 24 x 16cm. FINE. Early in 1941 Britain and her Empire stood alone and on the brink of defeat as a triple threat emerged from the Middle East. Nationalists in Iraq sought an alliance with Germany, the Vichy regime in Syria was ready to welcome Nazi troops and Iran's neutrality threatened supply and communication channels to the Empire and the ailing Soviet Union. Further, control of the Middle East meant control of oil, the essential lubricant of modern warfare. The author grippingly describes a series of vital victories that heralded the real turning point in Britain's fortunes. Until now, these extraordinary events have been relegated to the footnotes of history, overshadowed by the fearsome advance of the German war machine in Europe and North Africa. Shedding new light on the inner workings of Churchill's war cabinet and its relationship with the overstretched outposts of the Empire, the author reveals the fraught negotiations, rapid manoeuvring of meagre troops and the additional improvisation and good luck that enabled British forces to construct a series of unlikely victories which effectively secured Britain's future in the war.