Lawrence in Arabia: War, Deceit, Imperial Folly and the Making of the Modern Middle East

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Lawrence in Arabia: War, Deceit, Imperial Folly and the Making of the Modern Middle East

Lawrence in Arabia: War, Deceit, Imperial Folly and the Making of the Modern Middle East

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E Lawrence in Arabia during the First World War, but also serves to give the reader a broad overview of the often-sidelined Oriental theatre of war.

In 1922, he retreated from public life and spent the years until 1935 serving as an enlisted man, mostly in the Royal Air Force (RAF), with a brief period in the Army. At the Arab Bureau, Lawrence supervised the preparation of maps, [54] produced a daily bulletin for the British generals operating in the theatre, [55] and interviewed prisoners.His story is exceptional: an archaeologist fascinated by the region, an excellent linguist who mastered Arabic as he became an admirer of the Arabs, and a man without military training who transformed himself into an outstanding solider – but Anderson shows how he became increasingly disgusted about what war meant, and what he was doing in it, leaving him deeply depressed in his post-war years. In particular, he focuses on four extraordinary characters: T E Lawrence, the man we’ve come to know as ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ and who is the Lawrence of the book’s main title.

The daring exploits of British officers are also recounted to highlight the role of individuals in influencing the campaign. Alongside Lawrence, we read about the German anthropologist and spy Curt Prüfer, who worked with the Turks and one of whose first agents (and sometime mistress) was Minna Weizmann, sister of the Zionist who would later become the first President of Israel. The industrial-scale slaughter of the Middle East campaign, where the British Army deployed as much artillery in Palestine as they did on the Somme, has taken second place to images of cavalry charges and individual deeds of heroism. Lawrence's public image resulted in part from the sensationalised reporting of the Arab revolt by American journalist Lowell Thomas, as well as from Seven Pillars of Wisdom. In exchange, he wanted a British guarantee of an independent Arab state including the Hejaz, Syria, and Mesopotamia.The book is a memoir of his experiences in the desert, where he served as a liaison officer between the Arab tribes and the British army. Larès wrote that Lawrence is usually pictured in France as a Francophobe, but he was really a Francophile. Lawrence was afraid that the public would think that he would make a substantial income from the book, and he stated that it was written as a result of his war service.

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