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Clash of Eagles: America's Forgotten Expedition to Ottoman Palestineby Carol Lea Clark
Synopses & Reviews
In the 1840s, in the middle of the Mexican-American War, the secretary of the Navy authorized Lt. William Francis Lynch to command an unusual expedition east to Ottoman Palestine, now Israel and Jordan, to map the Dead Sea. Horses werent strong enough, so Lynch improvised with foul-tempered camels to haul metal boats overland from the Mediterranean to the
Sea of Galilee. Traversing this backwater of a dying empire, he forged life-saving alliances with a Bedouin sheikh and a Hashemite sharif, and he and his men navigated the treacherous, uncharted rapids of the Jordan, braving fatal heat and shortages of food and water before reaching Jerusalem—but why?
The expedition followed a long tradition of quasi-scientific expeditions as it tried to establish definitively, where others had failed, that the Dead Sea lay below sea level. But did it generate enough knowledge to justify the expense or the suffering of the fifteen Americans who joined Lynchs obsessive quest? Was it the result of one mans deadly ambition? A religious pilgrimage? A publicity stunt? Or the first step in returning Muslim Palestine to its former glory as a Judeo-Christian land of milk and honey?
In vivid, absorbing detail—richly illustrated with engaging historical drawings and maps—Clash of Eagles masterfully recounts this seemingly foolhardy mission and Americas first footsteps in the Middle East.
The gripping, forgotten story of Americas first foray into the Middle East, in which, traversing a backwater of a dying empire, Lt. William Lynch forged alliances with a Bedouin sheik and a Hashemite sharif, used foul-tempered camels to haul metal boats overland, and bravely navigated the treacherous rapids of the Jordan. But why? Was it a publicity stunt? Or was it meant to be the first step in returning Muslim Palestine to its former glory as a land of milk and honey? Exploring these possibilities in vivid, absorbing detail, Clark masterfully recounts this foolhardy mission that was soon derailed by the Civil War. Another hundred years would pass before America again involved itself in the Middle East.
About the Author
Carol Clark is an associate professor of English at the University of Texas at El Paso and has written more than fifty magazine articles, a book about nineteenth-century newspapers, and nine textbooks. The winner of a Fulbright Award to Jordan in 2008 to 2009, she discovered William Lynch's story while at the American Center of Oriental Research in Amman.
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