Historical documents are precious items, but their existence can be precarious. This was emphasised to me when an archival surprise radically altered the scope of a project that began as a Master’s thesis and resulted in my book ‘Glubb Pasha and the Arab Legion: Britain, Jordan, and the End of Empire in the Middle East’ (Cambridge University Press, 2017).
My original intention was to examine the causes and consequences of King Hussein’s dismissal of British officer Glubb Pasha from his role as commander of the Jordanian army – the British-financed Arab Legion – on 1 March 1956.
To that end I sought out Glubb’s private papers at the Middle East Centre Archive at St Antony’s College, Oxford, where 14 boxes of material, pre-selected by Glubb, were deposited after his death in 1986. Given the paucity of references to this collection in the secondary literature, I travelled more in hope than expectation. But my hope was richly rewarded, as a major new accession of Glubb’s papers – more than 100 boxes – had recently been deposited. Continue reading »