Morris charts the involvement of Lieutenant-General Sir John Glubb (or Glubb Pasha as he was commonly known) in the Zionist-Arab conflict in the years he commanded the Jordanian Arab Legion (1939-56). The study is based on Glubb's own writings—both published and unpublished—and thereby provides some interesting insights into various aspects of Glubb's career and personality. Unfortunately, this reliance on quotations comes at the expense of analysis. A more conscientious attempt to integrate Glubb's own words into the text would have provided a more coherent study of character and motives and would have avoided The Road to Jerusalem reading, as it does in many parts, like a selection of Glubb's writings.
Morris criticizes what he terms Glubb's "breathtaking distortions of the historical record"—in particular the claim that Israel initiated hostilities in 1948 and then expelled all Arabs from the territory of Palestine. He also shows how Glubb's attitudes to Jews and Jewry, which became more extreme as he grew older, had "more than a dash of anti-Semitism." But the author never really examines the extent to which this hostility towards Jews contributed to Glubb's own anti-Zionism or affected his influence over Jordanian policy.
Perhaps these lapses result from the fact that Morris, one of Israel's self-proclaimed "new historians," wrote The Road to Jerusalem before his "conversion" following the outbreak of Palestinian violence in September 2000. When he wrote this book he shared with Glubb a deep suspicion of Zionist policies and actions in these years. Thus, he accepts as substantially accurate Glubb's notion that it had been a Zionist objective from an early stage to evict the Muslim and Christian population from Palestine. His adherence to the revisionist theory of Jewish-Hashemite collusion as elaborated by Avi Shlaim, holding that the two parties intended to divide up Palestine, leads him somewhat bizarrely to argue that the evidence points to the Arab world not intending to destroy Israel in 1948.
Morris also falls into the biographer's trap of overestimating his subject's importance, as when he claims Glubb to have been no less than the "most influential and historically significant" Englishman to have served as an adviser or commander of native forces in the Middle East. What about the roles of men like Stratford ("Sultan") Canning and Lord Dufferin at the Ottoman court, General Allenby, Lawrence of Arabia, Captain William Shakespear in Arabia, or even Sir Mark Sykes (author of the vastly consequential Sykes-Picot agreement)?