John Bagot GLUBB
The Course of Empire : The Arabs and Their Successors

A classic essay with great pertinence for the USA today --
The Course of Empire : The Arabs and Their Successors,
Hodder & Stoughton, 1965, Prentice-Hall, 1966.

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Sir John Bagot Glubb

Born     16 April 1897 Preston, Lancashire
Died     17 March 1986 (aged 88) Mayfield, Sussex
Allegiance      United Kingdom Jordan
Years of service     1915 – 1956
Rank     Lieutenant General
Commands held     Royal Engineers Arab Legion
Battles/wars     World War I World War II: -Anglo-Iraqi War -Syria-Lebanon campaign 1948 Arab-Israeli War
Awards     Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath, Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George, Distinguished Service Order, Officer of the Order of the British Empire

Lieutenant-General Sir John Bagot Glubb, KCB, CMG, DSO, OBE, MC better known as Glubb Pasha (born 16 April 1897, Preston, Lancashire – died 17 March 1986, Mayfield, Sussex), was a British soldier, scholar and author, who led and trained Transjordan's Arab Legion between 1939 and 1956 as its commanding general. During the First World War, he served in France.

Educated at Cheltenham College, he was commissioned into the Royal Engineers in 1915. He was seriously wounded on the Western front, his jaw being shattered. In later years this would lead to the Arab nickname of abu Hunaik, meaning "the one with the little jaw." He was then transferred to Iraq in 1920, which was governed by Britain according to the League of Nations Mandate. He became an officer of the Arab Legion in 1930. The next year he formed the Desert Patrol — a force consisting exclusively of Bedouin — to curb the raiding problem that plagued the southern part of the country. Within a few years he had persuaded the Bedouin to abandon their habit of raiding neighbouring tribes.

In 1939, Glubb succeeded Frederick G. Peake as the commander of the Arab Legion (Now known as Jordan Royal Army). During this period, he transformed the legion into the best trained force in the Arab world.

According to the Encyclopædia of the Orient:

Glubb served his home country all through his years in the Middle East, making him immensely unpopular in the end. Arab nationalists believed that he had been the force behind pressure that made King Hussein I of Jordan join the Baghdad Pact. Glubb served different high positions in the Arab Legion, the army of Transjordan. During World War II he led attacks on Arab leaders in Iraq, as well as the Vichy regime which was present in Lebanon and Syria. [1]

During the 1948 Arab–Israeli War the Arab Legion was considered the strongest Arab army involved in the war. Glubb led the Arab Legion across Jordan to occupy the West Bank. Despite some negotiation and understanding between the Jewish Agency and King Abdullah, severe fighting took place in Kfar Etzion, Jerusalem and Latrun. According to Avi Shlaim,

Rumours that Abdullah was once again in contact with the Jewish leaders further damaged his standing in the Arab world. His many critics suggested that he was prepared to compromise the Arab claim to the whole of Palestine as long as he could acquire part of Palestine for himself. 'The internecine struggles of the Arabs,' reported Glubb, 'are more in the minds of Arab politicians than the struggle against the Jews. Azzam Pasha, the mufti and the Syrian government would sooner see the Jews get the whole of Palestine than that King Abdullah should benefit.' (p. 96)

Glubb remained in charge of the defence of the West Bank following the armistice in March 1949, and as the commander of the Arab Legion until 1 March 1956, when he was dismissed by King Hussein who wanted to distance himself from the British and disprove the contention of Arab nationalists that Glubb was the actual ruler of Jordan. Differences between Glubb and Hussein had been apparent since 1952, especially over defence arrangements, the promotion of Arab officers and the funding of the Arab Legion. Despite his decommission, which was forced upon him by public opinion, he remained a close friend of the king. He spent the remainder of his life writing books and articles, mostly on the Middle East and his experiences with the Arabs.


Glubb was appointed OBE in 1925; CMG in 1946; and KCB in 1956.


In 1938, Glubb married Muriel Rosemary Forbes, the daughter of physician James Graham Forbes. The couple had a son, Godfrey (named after the Crusader King Godfrey of Bouillon) born in Jerusalem in 1939, and adopted a Bedouin girl in 1944 and another daughter and son, his daughter from Palestinian refugees and son (named before Atalla) from Jordanian Bedouins] in 1947. One of his sons died soon after birth, on the same day as Dunkirk (see his Memoirs).

Glubb's father was Major-General Sir Frederic Manley Glubb, of Lancashire, who had been chief engineer in the British Second Army in the First World War; his mother was Letitia Bagot from County Roscommon.[1] He was a brother of the racing driver Gwenda Hawkes.

Sir John died in 1986 at his home in Mayfield, East Sussex, and is buried in the graveyard at St. Dunstan's Church in the village. King Hussein gave the eulogy at the service of thanksgiving for Glubb's life, held in Westminster Abbey on 17 April 1986.[2] Lady Glubb died in September 2005 and is interred with her husband. Their son, Godfrey, converted to Islam as a young man and took the name of Faris, becoming a prominent journalist and researcher into the Palestinian cause. He was killed in an accident in Kuwait in April 2004. Daughter Naomi died in July 2010.[3]


The source for the following bibliography is Contemporary Authors Online, Gale, 2005. Reproduced in Biography Resource Center. Farmington Hills, Mich.: Thomson Gale. 2005, except *. (With Henry Field) The Yezidis, Sulubba, and Other Tribes of Iraq and Adjacent Regions, G. Banta, 1943. (ASIN: B000X92Z2O)

The Story of the Arab Legion, Hodder & Stoughton, 1948 (ASIN: B0006D873I), Da Capo Press, 1976.

A Soldier with the Arabs, Hodder & Stoughton, 1957. (ASIN: B0000CJT37)

Britain and the Arabs: A Study of Fifty Years, 1908 to 1958, Hodder & Stoughton, 1959. (ASIN: B0000CK92W)

War in the Desert: An R.A.F. Frontier Campaign, Hodder & Stoughton, 1960, Norton, 1961.

The Great Arab Conquests, Hodder & Stoughton, 1963, Prentice-Hall, 1964.

The Empire of the Arabs, Hodder & Stoughton, 1963, Prentice-Hall, 1964.

The Course of Empire: The Arabs and Their Successors, Hodder & Stoughton, 1965, Prentice-Hall, 1966.

The Lost Centuries: From the Muslim Empires to the Renaissance of Europe, 1145-1453, Hodder & Stoughton, 1966, Prentice-Hall, 1967.

 Syria, Lebanon and Jordan, Walker & Co., 1967.

The Middle East Crisis: A Personal Interpretation, Hodder & Stoughton, 1967.

A Short History of the Arab Peoples, Stein & Day, 1969.

The Life and Times of Muhammad, Stein & Day, 1970.

Peace in the Holy Land: An Historical Analysis of the Palestine Problem, Hodder & Stoughton, 1971.

Soldiers of Fortune: The Story of the Mamlukes, Stein & Day, 1973.

The Way of Love: Lessons from a Long Life, Hodder & Stoughton, 1974.

Haroon Al Rasheed and the Great Abbasids, Hodder & Stoughton, 1976.

Into Battle: A Soldier's Diary of the Great War, Cassell, 1977.

The Fate of Empires and Search for Survival, Blackwood (Edinburgh), 1978.

Arabian Adventures: Ten Years of Joyful Service, Cassell (London), 1978.

The Changing Scenes of Life: An Autobiography, Quartet Books (London), 1983.

Royle, Trevor (1992). Glubb Pasha. Little, Brown &co/Abacus. pp. 497–498. ISBN 0-349-10344-5.

James Lunt, ‘Glubb, Sir John Bagot (1897–1986)’, rev., Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004, ISBN 0-00-272638-6
Karl E. Meyer and Shareen Blair Brysac, Kingmakers: the Invention of the Modern Middle East, W.W. Norton, 2008, ISBN 978-0-393-06199-4
Benny Morris, The Road to Jerusalem: Glubb Pasha, Palestine and the Jews, ISBN 1-86064-812-6
Shlaim, A. (2001). Israel and the Arab Coalition in 1948. In E. L. Rogan, A. Shlaim, C. Tripp, J. A. Clancy-Smith, I. Gershoni, R. Owen, Y. Sayigh & J. E. Tucker (Eds.), The War for Palestine: Rewriting the History of 1948 (pp. 79–103). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-79476-5

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