Headline bags Barr's 'ambitious' Middle East history in six-way auction

Headline bags Barr's 'ambitious' Middle East history in six-way auction

Headline has acquired an "ambitious" work centred on conflict in the Middle East by historian and author James Barr in a "heated" six-way auction.

Publisher for Non Fiction Iain MacGregor acquired UK and Commonwealth rights (excluding Canada) to The Arena: Three Thousand Years of Conflict in the Middle East by James Barr from Catherine Clarke at Felicity Bryan Associates. MacGregor was previously the editor for Barr’s titles at Simon & Schuster UK—A Line in the Sand, and Lords of the Desert.

In The Arena Barr is described as "casting his net wider and deeper than his previous bestselling books—back to the earliest evidence of invasions and destruction—to explore the question of why this region has been fought over more or less incessantly for three millennia, and is showing no let-up now".

Beginning with the Assyrians and ending with the ongoing war in Syria, Barr's history will be "an ambitious book that nobody has attempted before but which will cause a stir and great debate", according to Headline. 

MacGregor said: "We are proud to welcome James to the Headline group. I recently joined the imprint to build a serious narrative list of non-fiction titles that will establish Headline as a force in this lucrative area of the book trade. To convince someone of James’ calibre to come here is such a thrill for all concerned. The book will be a definite “moment” in publishing come 2023."

Barr said: "I am delighted that Headline will publish THE ARENA. I have already put three years’ thought and work into this big project and what especially appealed about Iain MacGregor and his colleagues at Headline is that they share my enthusiasm to create an exceptional book that befits the power of the question it will tackle: why do people fight over the Middle East?"

The Arena will publish in hardback in the autumn of 2023.