Sarah Shields’s new book, Fezzes in the River: Identity Politics and European Diplomacy in the Middle East on the Eve of World War II (Oxford University Press, 2011), is a social and diplomatic history of the contest between France and Turkey over the Sanjak of Alexandretta (1936–1940), an important coastal province. The book explores the development of Turkish nationalism and diplomacy in the early decades of the new republic, and analyzes French policy (and perfidy) as Paris struggled to balance her commitment to the League of Nations, promises to her Damascus protégés, and the need to protect her interests in the eastern Mediterranean as anxiety about war escalated. For more information please visit