The introduction provides an overview of the historical questions at stake in the book: the relationship between culture and how a state sees; the relationship between colonial violence and metropolitan culture; between orientalism and colonial administration; the distinction between covert empire versus indirect rule; the place of the world war in the story; the place of paranoid politics in British history. It explains the uniqueness of British intelligence–gathering in the Middle East as compared to other regions and the usefulness of this subject in understanding the workings of modern empire more generally. Finally, it explains the author's methodology and the periodization of the book with reference to both British and Middle Eastern history and defines key terms.
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