Middle East Studies

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Abdullah al-Tall – Arab Legion Officer

Arab Nationalism and Opposition to the Hashemite Regime

Ronen Yitzhak is the Head of Middle Eastern Studies Department at Western Galilee College in Acre, Israel. He is an expert in the 1948 war, Jordan, the Arab Legion and the Palestinians. He has published a book and a number of articles in Hebrew and English about the 1948 war and about the Arab Legion and King Abdullah.

This book reviews al-Tall's military–political biography during the years he served as an officer in the Arab Legion and those he spent in political exile in Egypt. The purpose is to understand al-Tall's personality, his contribution to the success of the Arab Legion in the 1948 war, and his part in the assassination of King Abdullah. A thorough survey of the historic background of the founding of Jordan and the Arab Legion, the 1948 war, the rivalry between King Abdullah and King Faruq, and the Egyptian–Jordanian struggle in the 1950s and 1960s, is provided. Primary questions to be answered include: What was Abdullah al-Tall's contribution to the success of the Arab Legion during the 1948 war? Did he engage in secret contacts with the Jews during the war, while at the same time denigrating them and praising Palestinian nationality? Was he involved in the assassination of King Abdullah, or was this a Jordanian conspiracy to slander him? What were his views vis-à-vis the tumultuous events in the Middle East in the 1950–1960s? And why was he allowed return to Jordan and take part in its political life after his exile to Egypt?

Ronen Yitzhak's book is based on books written by al-Tall himself and material located in Israeli archives (the IDF, Haganah and Israel state archives), as well as the UK National Archives (London). In addition memoirs of prominent persons of the time, along with newspaper reports and other general secondary material written in Arabic, Hebrew and English are utilized. This book is essential reading for anybody engaged in the history of the Middle East and Israeli–Arab conflict.

Hardback ISBN: 978-1-84519-408-6
Hardback Price: £55.00 / $74.95
Paperback ISBN: 978-1-78976-159-7
Paperback Price: £22.95 / $29.95
Release Date: May 2012
Page Extent / Format: 224 pp. / 229 x 152 mm
Illustrated: No



1. Abdullah al-Tall: The First Years in the Arab Legion
2. Conqueror of Jerusalem: Abdullah al-Tall in Jerusalem
3. An Officer Became a Murderer? Abdullah al-Tall and the Assassination of King Abdullah
4. From Cairo to Amman: Abdullah al-Tall in exile in Egypt and the return to Jordan



This is a thoroughly recommended book which unfolds the intriguing life of Abdullah al-Tall, an officer in the Arab Legion and one of the heroes of the 1948 war in Palestine. Al-Tall played a significant role in the political life of the Hashemite kingdom of Jordan during the late 1940s and throughout the 1950s, but the book's importance lies not only in its narration of al-Tall's personal life. It also tells the story of a whole generation of young Arabs represented by their ambitions and disappointments, achievements and failures. This is a must-read book for anyone interested in the history of Jordan at the first years of its independence, the formative years of the Arab–Israeli conflict, and youth and protest in the Arab world, a half century before the outbreak of the Arab Spring in 2011.
Prof. Eyal Zisser, Dean, Faculty of Humanities,
The Yona and Dina Ettinger Chair of Contemporary Middle Eastern History, Tel Aviv University

A fascinating biography of one of the more colourful and controversial Arab officers of modern times.
Efraim Karsh, Head of Middle East and Mediterranean Studies at King’s College London

Reviewed by Matthew Hughes, Brunel University, in Diplomacy & Statecraft (2013), Copyright © Taylor & Francis Group, LLC

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