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

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

19 out of 21 people found this review helpful.

It's telling that Lawrence's stomping grounds were what is now S

It's telling that Lawrence's stomping grounds were what is now Syria. This book isn't just an eye-opening way to look at the Middle East, but also a page-turner filled with spies, battles and titanic personalities.

posted by Peter2016 on August 6, 2013

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Most Helpful Critical Review

5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

A must for any SWA junkie

There is a lot out there about Lawrence and not all of it good! This book is "different." It approaches Lawrence's work in Arabia against a background of other "spies" who worked the "neighborhood." Anderson is a very good writer; he can't help himself with his comments...
There is a lot out there about Lawrence and not all of it good! This book is "different." It approaches Lawrence's work in Arabia against a background of other "spies" who worked the "neighborhood." Anderson is a very good writer; he can't help himself with his comments relating to how much better we all were when the British ruled the world and how American understanding just never quite gets there...wherever there is! But that's a debate for another day. Let me just say that it's a good read and well worth the time.

posted by Joe-B on August 30, 2013

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  • Posted August 6, 2013

    It's telling that Lawrence's stomping grounds were what is now S

    It's telling that Lawrence's stomping grounds were what is now Syria. This book isn't just an eye-opening way to look at the Middle East, but also a page-turner filled with spies, battles and titanic personalities.

    19 out of 21 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted August 10, 2013

    I Also Recommend:

    Scott Anderson shows off a clear, definitive voice in his new bo

    Scott Anderson shows off a clear, definitive voice in his new book Lawrence in Arabia. The writing is crisp and clear. The research is impecable. I not only enjoyed the book, I learned a lot about the Middle East in the process. High marks for this enjoyable account.

    15 out of 15 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 22, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Lawrence in Arabia, the Making of the Modern Middle East is an o

    Lawrence in Arabia, the Making of the Modern Middle East is an outstanding attempt of popular history of the middle east during World War I. By focusing on four men: T.E. Lawrence of the British, Curt Prufer of the Germans, the Zionist Aaron Aaronsohn and the American oil manager, William Yale, the reader is taken down a path that is at once extremely complex, yet because this book is personality driven, made more simpler for contemporary readers.

    Scott Anderson, a veteran American war correspondent, aims to take away the veneer of myth from this time period, and instead is able to illustrate the double dealing, the folly and the destructive social, moral, military, and political forces unleashed by many who did not at all understand the consequences of their actions. Most of this work does focus on T.E. Lawrence, and especially how this scholar archeologist was able to see and comprehend the forces of early 20th century Ottoman Empire better than just about anyone else from Britain, France or Germany, in WWI. By focusing almost exclusively on Lawrence and three other interested parties, men who were some of the least likely persons to be involved in war and dismemberment of the corrupt Ottoman Empire.

    I suppose due to Hollywood, Lawrence has entered the popular mind as an idealist, and to a large extent, this book presents him as such, especially in regards to his relations with his superior officers, whom he did not regard highly. But Lawrence also is presented here as someone greatly willing to contribute to Britain's victory.

    Yale, the standard Oil manager, and later US Army Captain and liaison to British forces in Palestine, is in many ways, the surprise of this work, as he was the most unlikely member of our quartet, yet perhaps the most significant in regards to the 1919 Paris Peace Conference, which really did change everything for the modern Middle East. Yale's influence on this work cannot be understated, for he was the only one of the four who lived to old age, and was able to write, teach and influence western policy (especially the US and Britain) in regards to the Middle East for decades, though he is largely unknown to the public.

    The only real critique I have here is that the writing could have been condensed some, but the author has dealt with a mountain of material. Also, the author does not go into great detail about the differences between the various Arab and Palestinian groups fighting the Ottomans. with the Otherwise this is an outstanding work that should be essential reading for understanding how the western world dealt with and helped to create the modern Middle East.

    13 out of 14 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 17, 2013

    I Also Recommend:

    Very educational. I enjoyed reading Lawrence in Arabia. I found

    Very educational. I enjoyed reading Lawrence in Arabia. I found the material mesmerizing.

    7 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 30, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    A must for any SWA junkie

    There is a lot out there about Lawrence and not all of it good! This book is "different." It approaches Lawrence's work in Arabia against a background of other "spies" who worked the "neighborhood." Anderson is a very good writer; he can't help himself with his comments relating to how much better we all were when the British ruled the world and how American understanding just never quite gets there...wherever there is! But that's a debate for another day. Let me just say that it's a good read and well worth the time.

    5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 15, 2013

    I Also Recommend:

    Lawrence in Arabia is a very well researched book. It was very e

    Lawrence in Arabia is a very well researched book. It was very educational. I give it my highest recommendation.

    5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted November 17, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    'Lawrence in Arabia' is an intense and highly informative nonfic

    'Lawrence in Arabia' is an intense and highly informative nonfiction book that follows the Arab Revolt and the following quest to control the Middle East. The book tells the story of four different men who were integral in the volatile times and actions that happened during the twentieth-century in the Middle East, as well as the consequences of these actions. The book is written in a somewhat relaxed narrative that comes off as fascinating rather than dry, but parts of the book were boring for me as a reader. This is most likely due to the fact that I'm not a huge history buff or highly interested in the Middle East. The book was expertly written with tons of information, facts, and images that backed the author's ideas and claims. The book was well written and does a good job of not dragging the reader down with too much information at once or overly boring narrative. Definitely recommended for fans of history nonfiction as well as those interested in the Middle East and it's history.

    Disclosure: I received a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2013

    Highly recommend if you are interested in the Middle East

    If you are interested in how the world situation today in the Middle East developed, and why we are in the situation we have been for over ten years, this book will really illuminate your understanding. It has just over 600 pages of reading material, which could probably have been edited by 75 pages. Still for the time, I feel I have a much better understanding of how we got where we are...

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 28, 2013

    I really appreciated this book.

    I'll read it over again with a mid east map beside me. It was completely engrossing. I just hate to think about all of the additional interesting information that probably had to be edited out of it due to lack of space. I could have kept on reading for a lot longer. I recommend it very much.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 6, 2013

    A hero uncovered in a new generation desperately seeking heroes.

    Knowledge of the Middle East as it stands today is definitely required to understand and truly appreciate this book. This effort is as current as today's Washington Post! A history buff's delight.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 31, 2013

    Reads like a 200 mile camel ride through the desert, with lots o

    Reads like a 200 mile camel ride through the desert, with lots of bumps and detours. Anderson's writing style is as cumbersome and obtuse as Lawrence's. D B Cole

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 30, 2013

    Highly recommended

    best history of the era, have read "law OF Arabia" but this is VERY comprehensive and well written, enplanes the situation we find ourselves in today. i now have a real view of the events that occurred during that time. A great read

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 22, 2014

    I Also Recommend:

    Recommended in book form only...

    I purchased this book on my nook which has been difficult because I keep wanting to refer to the maps located in the book. Nonetheless, I have enjoyed this book!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 13, 2013

    a very slow moving book

    I found it very complex and confusing at times. I love history but this was
    a difficult read.

    I have not recommended it to my other history buff friends.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 6, 2014

    I first heard the author in an interview on Natinal Public Radio

    I first heard the author in an interview on Natinal Public Radio and was intrigued by his clear-headed encyclopedic knowledge, and the always intriguing element of "it's not what you think it was". But first, I read TE Lawrence's autobiography, The Seven Pillars of Wisdom, as well as watched the 1962 movie (for the first time) Lawrence of Arabia. The first was a rather slow and difficult read, with TEL's obtuse grammar and what often seems like a 600 page camel ride. And then the movie, as movies do, tends towards dramatic license, obscuring the truth of the story. By contrast, Anderson's book was thoroughly researched, fast paced, and difficult for me to put down. While using the current (over-used) literary vehicle of interleaving personalities and stories to keep the reader engaged, nowhere does it not serve the purpose of the story. And a compelling true story it is. It gives great insight into what is true in 7 Pillars, and the man who felt compelled to reject his fame, fortune, and even his name in order to escape the horrors of what he was responsible for. The character Aaron Aaronson serves to show the origins of the state of Israel, Prufer, the role of Germany in the theater, and Yale, the role of the Americans. It's a thoroughly enlightening read about the basis of what is currently happening in the Middle East.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 10, 2013

    One of the best books to read.

    Really good book. Deals with complex subjects, but deals with them in a simple manner. Moreover the rich detail of the book is beyond astounding; Anderson really wanted his audience to note the details that changed and continued throughout the Middle East's fabrication. From the hint of the Crusades to T. E. Lawrence's birth to the First World War, and to many more, Lawrence in Arabia is a great book to read.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 4, 2013

    Outstanding..............helps one to begin to understand the co

    Outstanding..............helps one to begin to understand the complexity of the Middle East. Covers a lot of ground, and often reads like a high powered spy novel. Reveals a multifaceted Lawrence as well as a cast of parallel characters working for their own objectives..........Pulitzer worthy..

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 6, 2014

    Intriging, informative, digital maps not clear

    Am reading book in digital form and wish the maps intrigal to following the timeline would be more readable. Wish also that author/pulisher would have included a glossary of persons. With my long interruption in finding readable maps I had to refresh (search for, reread portions) my memory about who was involved where. Frustrating! Otherwise, engrossing, great background for understanding the Middle East today.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 10, 2014

    Definitely recommend this excellent book.

    Read it. It's terrific and informative and a really good experience.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 27, 2013

    A Must Read

    "Lawrence in Arabia" was on the NY Times list of 100 best nonfiction books for 2013, and for good reason. It's very readable and gives the background for the current political turmoil in the Mideast. This Barnes & Noble purchase was for 2 copies, both given as Christmas gifts, and both very well received. I read it when it first came out and highly recommend it.

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