×

Uh-oh, it looks like your Internet Explorer is out of date.

For a better shopping experience, please upgrade now.

Setting the Desert on Fire: T. E. Lawrence and Britain's Secret War in Arabia, 1916-1918
     

Setting the Desert on Fire: T. E. Lawrence and Britain's Secret War in Arabia, 1916-1918

4.2 12
by James Barr
 

See All Formats & Editions

Greed and intrigue combine explosively in this gripping tale of how the mercurial Lawrence of Arabia changed the Middle East forever.

It was T. E. Lawrence’s classic Seven Pillars of Wisdom that made the Arab Revolt a legend and helped turn the British intelligence officer into the mythical “Lawrence of Arabia.” But the intrigue

Overview

Greed and intrigue combine explosively in this gripping tale of how the mercurial Lawrence of Arabia changed the Middle East forever.

It was T. E. Lawrence’s classic Seven Pillars of Wisdom that made the Arab Revolt a legend and helped turn the British intelligence officer into the mythical “Lawrence of Arabia.” But the intrigue behind the revolt and its startling consequences for the present-day Middle East have remained a mystery for nearly one hundred years. James Barr spent four years trawling declassified archives in Europe and crossing the hostile deserts of the Middle East to re-create the revolt as the international drama it really was. A colorful cast of Arab sheiks, British and French soldiers, spies, and diplomats come together in this gripping narrative of political maneuvering, guerrilla warfare, and imperial greed. Setting the Desert on Fire is a masterly account of a key moment in the history of the Middle East, and a portrait of Lawrence himself that is bright, nuanced, and full of fresh insights into the true nature of the master mythmaker.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

British historian Barr re-examines World War I's " 'Great Arab Revolt' " led by the legendary "Lawrence of Arabia" in this exhaustively researched and vividly narrated history. Thomas Edward Lawrence was a young British intelligence officer when he undertook to organize Arab resistance to the Ottoman Empire, a German ally. The Turkish (Ottoman) sultan was also the caliph-spiritual leader of Muslims worldwide-and the British feared that his call for jihad "threatened their eastern empire." To secure Arab support against the Turks, the British offered them "a hazy declaration" of future independence. Led by Lawrence, "an eccentric amateur" who adopted the flowing robes of his desert allies, the Arabs began a guerrilla campaign against the Hijaz Railway, "the Turks' supply line" between Damascus and Medina. Lawrence's "driving obsession" was to capture Damascus and "foil French ambitions in Syria." As the war in Europe was ending, the Arabs occupied Damascus and Lawrence installed an Arab government. Upon the war's conclusion, "Middle Eastern matters were peripheral." Britain then yielded Syria to France, denying Arab independence and initiating "a new legacy, of increasingly bitter relations." Barr expertly navigates an intriguing landscape of shifting alliances and labyrinthine politics peopled with eccentric characters to demystify a fascinating legend. illus. (Feb.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Library Journal

The Arabs: fiercely nationalistic and politically fragmented. The imperialists: militarily stretched and engaged in contradictory diplomacy. Oil: complicating the political interests. While this could be a description of current conditions in the Middle East, here it reflects the fluid scene when World War I brought European rivalries to the Arab sector of the crumbling Ottoman Empire. Barr conducted extensive research in government and personal papers of the era and visited the relevant sites to convey the complex story and the harsh environment of his topic. The result is this lively, well-balanced story of the Arab Revolt and the shifting British response. T.E. Lawrence is only one of the colorful British officers conveying contradictory messages to the Arab leaders, partially resisting French pressures, and negotiating with Zionists. The desert battles involving British, Indian, French, Turkish, German, and Arab forces were chaotic, and the diplomacy was shortsighted and unreliable. Barr's book doesn't offer anything particularly new, but it provides a clear, engaging history of a crucial period in the still-vital Middle East. Libraries seeking material for the serious general reader will want to get this.
—Elizabeth R. Hayford

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780393070958
Publisher:
Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date:
02/17/2008
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
400
Sales rank:
801,091
File size:
889 KB

Meet the Author

James Barr is the author of Setting the Desert on Fire. During the research for A Line in the Sand he was a Visiting Fellow at St Antony’s College, Oxford. He lives in London.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Post to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews

Setting the Desert on Fire: T.E. Lawrence and Britain's Secret War in Arabia, 1916-1918 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 12 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Setting the desert on fire is a historical account of British Army missions in the Middle East during the First World War. However, its impact is a great deal more wide ranging than that sounds. Given the current delicate situation in this part of the world, this book takes the reader on a fascinating journey to the heart of the region, and certainly helped me to place some of our current follies in context. At the heart of this book is T.E. Lawrence 'Lawrence of Arabia', and his extraordinarily daring, brave and probably short sighted actions. There seems to be tendency these days to dismiss the Legend of Lawrence 'partly created by his own writings', but Mr. Barr¿s assessment of his involvements take an intelligently balanced point of view. His involvement in the story does provide a dynamic end engaging drive, but there are many other equally important characters in the narrative. The author gives particularly welcome insight into the significant parts that Sharif Husein and Sharif Feisel play in the encouragement of Arab revolt against the Turks. As a whole this book takes us through the events in detail, carefully mapping out the positions of the Turks, British, French and Arabs along the way, whilst placing the whole vital but small-scale actions in the context of the mass slaughter going on in France at the time. However, what really brings this book alive, and completes its important accessibility are the contemporary insights of the author. A trip by Mr. Barr to the site of the Hijaz railway and the various towns in the area provides numerous connections to the present day. This creates a freshness and energy that helps the reader to visualize the place and time with clarity and texture.
Capt-Nemo More than 1 year ago
After reading T.E. Lawrence's Seven Pillars of Wisdom I read this work which fills in the missing political background. The reader still gets the Legend of Lawrence of Araba, but the reader also gets to know how others felt about him. Along with the politics the was actually going on behind the scenes between France and England. Should the reader never have heard of the Balfor Declaration and its affect not only on the Arab revolt, but the creation of the situation that exists today between the Arab's and Jews you will learn it here.The author also traces the original routes taken by Lawrence and relates such interesting annodotes as seeing still in 2004 one of the train engines destroyed during the Arab revolt right in the middle of desert.
arethusa More than 1 year ago
This is a review of the ebook data, not the content of the book. I wish reviews who read ebooks would comment on the format and function of the data . This book was well done within current limits of ebook data at this time. Links to chapters work, and function well with the Nook Chapter search. There are many footnotes, largely to the original source of the quotations within the text. They are correctly linked, and the return to the reading page works well. This is the level of data management I expect from ebooks I pay for, but I fear this is not always what I get. As to content, I've read several books on Lawrence's actions during WWI and find this book makes clear the political background and broader motivation of British policy during that period. The author has done substantial research in the British archives and has taken a look at the landscape in which Lawrence's activities took place. It presents a clear view of the events and their motivation. I recommend it to anyone who wants an historical view of the Hijaz and vicinity in 1916-1918.
glauver More than 1 year ago
James Barr's title is a bit misleading. This is more than just another account of T.E. Lawrence's crusade to found an Arab state. (actually, he might be better called Lawrence of Jordan or Iraq.) Barr is not a blind worshiper at the Lawrence shrine; he points out that T. E was adept at manipulating his own legend and was not unaware of the British betrayal of the rebels he was a part of. He also credits the other British advisers and diplomats involved and points out that without Allenby's Palestine invasion the Arab revolt was basically doomed to failure. This is OK but I am sure there are more in-depth biographies of Lawrence and more detailed accounts of WWI in the Middle Eat.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Rioghan_Celt More than 1 year ago
When the Germans allied themselves with the Ottoman Turks in WWII, the British sent T.E. Lawrence to the Middle East to foment an uprising in withing the Arab Empire. In the spirit of special operations to come, Lawrence lived and fought alongside the Arabs, conducting sabotage operations on rail lines, and even the first Close Air Support mission.