T.E. Lawrence joined the British Army in 1914 and, with his extensive knowledge of the Ottoman Empire, was soon back in the Middle East and fighting ...Show synopsisT.E. Lawrence joined the British Army in 1914 and, with his extensive knowledge of the Ottoman Empire, was soon back in the Middle East and fighting with the Arabs against the Turks. Between 1916 and 1918, he fought many actions against the Turks and was eventually promoted to Lieutenant-Colonel after the successful occupation of Damascus, in Syria. After the war, he wrote "Seven Pillars of Wisdom", part based on archaeological research before the war and part-based on his activities against the Turks. "Revolt in the Desert" followed in 1926.Hide synopsis
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When I was 10 years old and first saw David Lean's movie, I was so captivated that, at Catholic Confirmation, I chose St. Lawrence as my patron saint. Now, 48 years later, I am reading Revolt for the first time. I expected it to be over-written and hard reading. How wrong I was! For me, this book shows that Lawrence is among the most accomplished figures in all of recorded history. To lead like a Caesar; to write like a Hugo! Lawrence was a master writer; he attacks every chronicle with the eye for detail of an archaeologist, the personal insight of a psychologist and the flourish of a poet. I am so impressed, I am going to stop reading, order the mightier Seven Pillars and start again. And after all this, to merely seek anonymity as a lowly private in the Tank Corps! Lawrence is clearly one of those figures that not only can live up to the hype, but surpass it. A great man, a versatile man, self-effacing but assured.
In order to appeciate this book, one has to be a scholar of post Ottoman Empire politics. For me it was too intense to finish reading. I left it on the plane. Watching the movie was entertaining......the book tiring.
Okay, a bold title deserves justification.
The worst one could say of T.E. Lawrence is that he was an iconic British hero. I won't slather this book review with biographical fodder, but will instead, review said book.
In "Revolt in the Desert", Lawrence shows his mastery of language that rivaled the greatest English writers of all time.
This abridged version of "Seven Pillars of Wisdom" is a glimpse into a shadow of history, if not a brilliant mind.
Deletions of censored and edited sections are obvious throughout (remember it's abridged!) and make the mental navigation of the story difficult at times, but you'll manage.
Lawrence's imagery is often painful even frequently comical.
The average modern reader doesn't have the benefit of drawing on history that, for the book's first audience in 1927, was not distant news. If you know some WWI history, rejoice! If not, get out a Dummy's Guide to WWI or be prepared to stumble through some historical figures, Arab tribes and military equipment scarcely heard of today, although not any less important. American foreign policy in the Middle East would be well served if this were mandatory reading for U.S. State Department officials.
REVIEW EVERY BOOK YOU READ. AUTHORS, EVEN DEAD ONES, DESERVE YOUR OPINIONS.
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