Seven Pillars of Wisdom is the autobiographical account of T.E. Lawrence - also known as 'Lawrence of Arabia' - of his service in the Arab Revolt during the First World War, published in Penguin Modern Classics. Although 'continually and bitterly ashamed' that the Arabs had risen in revolt against the Turks as a result of fraudulent British promises of self-rule, Lawrence led them in a triumphant campaign which revolutionized the art of war. Seven Pillars of Wisdom recreates epic events with extraordinary vividness. In the ...
Seven Pillars of Wisdom is the autobiographical account of T.E. Lawrence - also known as 'Lawrence of Arabia' - of his service in the Arab Revolt during the First World War, published in Penguin Modern Classics. Although 'continually and bitterly ashamed' that the Arabs had risen in revolt against the Turks as a result of fraudulent British promises of self-rule, Lawrence led them in a triumphant campaign which revolutionized the art of war. Seven Pillars of Wisdom recreates epic events with extraordinary vividness. In the words of E. M. Forster, 'Round this tent-pole of a military chronicle, Lawrence has hung an unexampled fabric of portraits, descriptions, philosophies, emotions, adventures, dreams'. However flawed, T.E. Lawrence is one of the twentieth century's most fascinating figures. This is the greatest monument to his character and achievements, and formed the basis for the Oscar-winning film Lawrence of Arabia, staring Peter O'Toole and Alec Guinness. This edition includes maps, drawings by Eric Kennington, and index of place names and a preface by A.W. Lawrence. Thomas Edward Lawrence (1888-1935) was born in Wales and educated at Jesus and Magdalen Colleges, Oxford. He was commissioned on the outbreak of the First World War and in 1917 was officially attached to the staff of the Hejaz expeditionary force, under General Wingate. After the war, Lawrence was Advisor on Arab Affairs in the Middle Eastern Division of the Colonial Office. In 1927, embarrassed with the 'Lawrence of Arabia' legend, he changed his name by deed poll to Shaw'. In addition to this book, of which Lawrence lost almost the whole manuscript at Reading station in 1919, he wrote Revolt in the Desert (1927) and The Odyssey of Homer (1935), a translation in prose. If you enjoyed Lawrence of Arabia, you might also like Wilfred Thesiger's Desert Sands, available in Penguin Classics. 'I am not much of a hero-worshipper, but I could have followed T.E. Lawrence over the edge of the world' John Buchan, author of The Thirty-Nine Steps
I've read this book before and have always loved reading T.E. Lawrence's writings. His descriptions can be a bit technical and anthropological, but his descriptions of culture, environment, and place can transcend time and put you there if you let it.
Dec 16, 2010
One must love history and have interest in the Middle East during the campaigns of WWI to appreciate this writing. Lawrence of Arabia was articulate, intelligent and is a great historical romantic figure.
Jul 9, 2009
I am absolutely delighted with this copy of one of the great works of English literature. It is a 1935 edition which contains not only illustrations and maps, but also excerpts of correspondence between Thomas E. Lawrence (hadn't know his name was Thomas until I got this copy) and his publisher which shows his great sense of humor.
If you can get a copy of this edition, do so while there are still some available.
Apr 2, 2009
'Seven Pillars...' is not just beautifully written (though that alone would be sufficient incentive to read it) - it traces the source of the soured relations between Europe and the Arab world following the Great War. Indeed, this tale of recruitment, arming and training of irregulars and their subsequent betrayal by foreign sponsors would be distastefully familiar subject matter for any observer of events of the 20th and early 21st centuries in the near and middle East. The promise of nationhood and self-determination to enlist help against a common enemy was dangled before the Arab peoples: a recognisable modus operandi, latterly to be visited time and again upon the restless and desperate.
Lawrence was "continually and bitterly ashamed" of the betrayal of the Bedouin, whose fierce loyalty and independence of spirit he clearly admired. It is sad, in many ways, that a similar vein of conscience is so signally absent from the characters who have latterly dabbled in the politics of the "Levant" - especially since, unlike Lawrence, they held the power to desist from their course.
This is in many respects a period-piece, and some of the author's attitudes may jar on a 21st century reader: however, the man was writing in and of his time, and to this reader at least, the integrity of his intent remains quite credible. I heartily recommend this book.
Jul 17, 2007
A Swashbuckling Memoir
I was reading this book the day JFK was assassinated. I also loved the movie starring Peter O'Toole as Lawrence of Arabia. So many geographies were changed after the first world war and this occurried in the middle east as well as in Europe. Trying to understand the Arab people as did El Laurence was a high point of this book. It should be required reading for anyone who wants to understand the current Arab world. Lawrence was also a scholar as well and his love of speed eventually killed him in a motorcycle accident. The one thing that must be realized at the semitic peoples included not only the Israelis but also the Arabs. Understanding both gives one perspective in the modern Middle East.
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