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Hero: The Life and Legend of Lawrence of Arabia

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

28 out of 29 people found this review helpful.

A good look at T.E. Lawrence

Previous reviewers seem to using the review space to express displeasure with the ebook price. I'm going to comment on the book. I've read a lot of Lawrence biographies and other work on his life and achievements. This one is the latest, and takes advantage of the relea...
Previous reviewers seem to using the review space to express displeasure with the ebook price. I'm going to comment on the book. I've read a lot of Lawrence biographies and other work on his life and achievements. This one is the latest, and takes advantage of the release of many previously restricted files on Lawrence and his official actions in WW1. Korda has also read many of the letters Lawrence wrote throughout his life and has made some analysis of the circumstances in which they were written and Lawrence's relationship with the recipients. I found this book lucid and clear in expression and carefully researched and thought. The last section has analysis of some of the earlier biographies which often had obvious and varied agendas; Korda hoped, I am sure, to avoid this. Lawrence was never a take him or leave him person at any time. This is a must read for anyone interested in Lawrence or in the Middle East - the section on the Paris Peace Conference in 1919 is enlightening. Decisions made there are still giving trouble today, and Lawrence clearly felt he failed the Arab people. Korda has given us an illuminating view of a complex man and a life that resonates more that 75 years after it ended.

posted by arethusa on November 28, 2010

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Most Helpful Critical Review

12 out of 36 people found this review helpful.

Pricing?

$19.80 for the hardback and $19.99 for the digital version??? What's wrong with this picture?

posted by AZ_Nooker on November 24, 2010

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  • Posted November 28, 2010

    A good look at T.E. Lawrence

    Previous reviewers seem to using the review space to express displeasure with the ebook price. I'm going to comment on the book. I've read a lot of Lawrence biographies and other work on his life and achievements. This one is the latest, and takes advantage of the release of many previously restricted files on Lawrence and his official actions in WW1. Korda has also read many of the letters Lawrence wrote throughout his life and has made some analysis of the circumstances in which they were written and Lawrence's relationship with the recipients. I found this book lucid and clear in expression and carefully researched and thought. The last section has analysis of some of the earlier biographies which often had obvious and varied agendas; Korda hoped, I am sure, to avoid this. Lawrence was never a take him or leave him person at any time. This is a must read for anyone interested in Lawrence or in the Middle East - the section on the Paris Peace Conference in 1919 is enlightening. Decisions made there are still giving trouble today, and Lawrence clearly felt he failed the Arab people. Korda has given us an illuminating view of a complex man and a life that resonates more that 75 years after it ended.

    28 out of 29 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 4, 2010

    Outstanding scholarship and accessible prose!

    T.E. Lawrence is often portrayed as an enigma in the various biographies that have examined his life. Hero parses out Lawrence in an even-handed manner that allows the reader to walk with Lawrence as he struggles with the Arab question at the end of the First World War and then Lawrence's personal demons that assailed him after the war's conclusion. Studying Lawrence's involvement in the war is essential to understanding the Middle East today and the use of guerilla warfare all over the world. Korda's book is a great place to start before you engage lawrence's Seven Pillars of Wisdom.

    13 out of 13 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 20, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    excellent, highly recommend

    Alas, this is the book that should have won the Pulitzer for history instead of the polemic by Stacey Schiff on Cleopatra. In my youth, (AKA 1960's-70s), I tried to read "Seven Pillars of Wisdom" but Lawrence's reputation had been severely damaged by questions as to the accuracy and honesty of his own account of the Great War. I couldn't rightly judge the integrity of what I was reading, that, and Lawrence liked to immitate the ponderous style of Doughty's "Arabia Deserta." Korda covers these issues of accuracy and redeems Lawrence's stylistic eccentricities with many examples of his strength of description. Lawrence is an extraordinary man with extraordinary personal baggage. But Korda treats his subject with compassion and sympathy without becoming maudlin. He puts Lawrence's accomplishments in perspective, and gives us a picture of a shy, insightful man, full of very human contradictions who was a natural born leader. Taking advantage of long withheld archival information and other sources, he brings a clarity to his subject that has long been needed. This is a highly readable account worth the price of admission. In fact, I could hardly put the book down, and at just one page short of 700, that's saying something. Korda is honest and doesn't clutter his work with anachronsitic judgements, (unlike Ms. Schiff who likes to drag Edward Said into her account whenever she can). After I finished the book I decided to go out and get a copy of Korda's biography of Eisenhower. A good historian!

    10 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 18, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    The Many Sides of a Complex Man

    "Hero: The Life and Legend of Lawrence of Arabia" by Michael Korda is a biography of Englishman Thomas Edward (T.E.) Lawrence better known by his nickname. The biography follows Lawrence from his birth to his early death.

    T.E. Lawrence was the illegitimate son of an Irish landowner who ran off with the family governess, Sarah Lawrence. They settled in Oxford, England using her name and brought up five sons, Thomas Edward being the second. From the start his mother had a difficult time accepting that Thomas will be different.

    Thomas got interested in medieval architecture and toured studying castles all over the world on many grueling journeys, walking alone much of the way. As World War I broke out, Lawrence's knowledge of the Ottoman Empire ensured him a post as an officer in Egypt and he quickly became the link between the British and the Arab revolt and becomes known to the world as Lawrence of Arabia.

    "Hero: The Life and Legend of Lawrence of Arabia" by Michael Korda is an amazing biography of a very complex man. After reading this book I finally understood the allure of Lawrence of Arabia: as ambiguous as he was in his lifetime, he is just as much ambiguous in his death.

    Mr. Korda does an excellent job examining the different, often contradictory, sides of this complex man. Lawrence was an Oxford educated scholar with special interest in archeology and an imperialist, but he was also a ruthless warrior who supported a revolt against the empire. Fighting against the Turkish Ottoman rule Lawrence acted in a brave fashion which could also be described as fanatic and quite irresponsible. T.E. Lawrence was a sexually repressed vegetarian who would eat meat not to insult his Arab hosts, hated physical contact but didn't flinch when charging the enemy.

    "detractors and admirers alike tend to dissect his personalty into thin slices, separating the soldier form the scholar, the hero for the teller of tall tales, the victim of neuroses from the moan of action, and in the process losing sight of just what an attractive and interesting person he was."

    The author does an excellent job bringing the reader the many sides of Lawrence, from admiration "cool judgment under fire" to the introducing a complex man, depressed, shy but certainly eccentric. The T.E. Lawrence we learn about has "found himself in part of the world where his taste for sweet things and his dislike of alcohol were shared by most of the local population".

    Mr. Korda does a wonderful job describing Lawrence's harassment and sabotage campaign (basically hit and run tactics) using a small force which, by nature, was much more mobile than the Turkish standing army. A poignant part of the book comes when describing Lawrence's capture, torture and rape by the Turks. This was a life changing event for Lawrence and the humiliation he felt for enjoying the rape has haunted him to the end. Michael Korda treats this pivotal occurrence in Lawrence's life with sensitivity and seriousness it deserves.

    The transformation of T.E. Lawrence into the mythical Lawrence of Arabia mostly by Lowell Thomas is also a part of the story. However the author is quick to point out that the lure of his character does not overshadows Lawrence's real achievement, such as pioneering a new kind of warfare and his pivotal rule in creating three Middle Eastern kingdoms.

    6 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 5, 2012

    Very informative

    This book answered all of the questions I had after reading Seven Pillars. I know there are some biographers of Lawrence who seem to want to disparage him in some way or another, but in this volume Michael Korda seems to be pretty even-handed.

    If you've wondered about where T.E. Lawrence came from before the Arab Campaign or where he went after, this book is a good choice.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 26, 2014

    HIghly recommended

    Didn't want the book to end. Easily readable description of a fascinating man. Excellent handling of other biographers' viewpoints. Makes me want to read Seven Pillars of Wisdom by "Lawrence."

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 19, 2013

    Amber

    Crap. Write res 6

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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