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Seven Pillars Of Wisdom

Seven Pillars Of Wisdom

3.9 40
by T. E. Lawrence

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Seven Pillars of Wisdom is the monumental work that assured T.E. Lawrence's place in history as "Lawrence of Arabia." Not only a consummate military history, but also a colorful epic and a lyrical exploration of the mind of a great man, this is one of the indisputable classics of 20th century English literature. Line drawings throughout. 

Consider the


Seven Pillars of Wisdom is the monumental work that assured T.E. Lawrence's place in history as "Lawrence of Arabia." Not only a consummate military history, but also a colorful epic and a lyrical exploration of the mind of a great man, this is one of the indisputable classics of 20th century English literature. Line drawings throughout. 

Consider the saga of Elmo Zumwalt II, admiral in the U.S. Navy. He was responsible for the decision to spray the controversial and carcinogenic "agent orange" on the banks of the rivers in Vietnam to defoliate them. Many U.S. soldiers were inflicted with cancer as a result. His own son, Elmo Zumwalt III, was among them! Was it then a wise decision? Most strategists believe that many more lives would have been lost had the Vietcong had the cover of the forest to continue sniping at our patrol boats. Even as Elmo III lay dying, he supported his father's decision.

Many believe thousands of lives were saved when President Truman hastened the end of World War II by his decision to drop atomic bombs. Churchill did not warn his people of a known air raid so the Germans would not discover we had broken their code. Many died but we kept a great strategic advantage.

And how often every day are doctors, scientists, leaders, police, judges, and maybe even yourself called upon to make decisions that may have serious, even life and death, effects on one's self or others? How often are people hurt by unwise actions? How often by your or my foolishness?

Foolishness is just lack of wisdom. Conversely we may say that wisdom is knowledge righteously and appropriately applied.

We all exercise good and bad judgments daily, but even our wisest decisions seem to fall short. Our best efforts may mitigate a problem but who has the ability to stop or prevent the problem?

Truly it can be said that the world is wise according to the laws and principles of man. But, I Corinthians 3:19, "the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness." This scripture indicates that the good examples of the wisdom of the world we have seen are, at best, damage control. For who has the perfect wisdom to prevent any or all of the evils of this present day?

We can all agree there is no shortage of wise acres, wise crackers, wise guys, wisenheimers, or sophomores (literally "wise morons"). But where are the "Solomons"?

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Meet the Author

T. E. Lawrence, 1888-1935

Col. Thomas Edward Lawrence (August 16, 1888 - May 18, 1935), also known as Lawrence of Arabia, became famous for his role as a British liaison officer during the Arab Revolt of 1916-1918. His fame as a soldier was largely promoted by U.S. traveller and journalist Lowell Thomas's reportage of the Revolt, as well as Lawrence's autobiographical account, Seven Pillars of Wisdom.

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Seven Pillars of Wisdom 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 40 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
T.E. Lawrence's 'Seven Pillars Of Wisdom' is as great as legend has it, the amazingly well-written story of a nobody whose genius only found expression in a world at war. In 1916 still just an obscure British intelligence officer in Cairo, he ended as Ya Auruns, the white-robed leader of Arabians, finally taking them to victory against the Ottoman Empire. The book ends in Damascus, which Lawrence and his forces seized, which he briefly ruled, and which he abruptly left to the Arabs and the British. Of his life before these two years-- almost nothing. Of his life after-- and Lawrence played a considerable role in setting up the post-World War I Middle East-- nothing. But the two years he does cover he writes of in legendary prose, dense, very rich, intense, striving for perfection of detail, utterly gorgeous in its colors, striking with truth when he feels like it, teasing and elusive when he wants to hold back. H. G. Wells said of 'Seven Pillars': 'In my opinion it is the finest piece of prose that has been written in the English language for 150 years.' His subject's himself too, of course, hero and anti-hero, perhaps a bit too self-dramatizingly, but genuine in his torment, his understanding all along that the colony-hungry Allies mean to betray his Arabs' hunger for independence in the end, which leads him to call himself 'I, the stranger, the godless fraud inspiring an alien nationality'. The torment goes deeper than that, and here we-- and he-- delve into muddy psychological depths-- of masochism and sexual confusion and, too, a straining for a kind of superhuman mastery over physical limits, enabling him to outride and outendure the toughest Bedouin. All this murk just makes the book more interesting, adding dimensions way past those of the normal war memoir. But it needs emphasizing: The book is not some sort of self-centered, romanticized farrago. Lawrence is scrupulous in acknowledging the many other Britishers, and soldiers of other nationalities, who played a role in his campaigns. He's clear-eyed and wise in his character portraits, from minor actors to someone like the mighty but flawed, devious Arabian warrior chieftain Auda abu Tayi. He's fascinating and dead-on in discussion of guerrilla warfare theory. And then are the great and gripping setpieces throughout the book, such as the way he unfolds the terrible last battle of Tafas when the Arabs burned to avenge Turkish atrocities and 'By my order we took no prisoners....', or the unbearingly moving restraint with which he writes of having to shoot his hopelessly wounded servant boy Faraj to spare him the sure tortures of the Turks if left behind alive. Yes, the book is long, and moves at a different pace from ours, savoring every sunset, every change in the colors of desert sand, so maybe it's not for you or maybe is, but certainly it is for the ages.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I'll keep this brief because I don't think I can say anything that hasn't been said already. This book is a hard read, told in amazingly lengthy and unbelievable detail. The story itself is amazing, but the actual campaigns he planned and led are actually few and far between. His descriptions of the trips across the desert grew monotonous and the cast of characters was impossible to keep track of. That said, the man was amazing. He lived as a nomad for years, pulled the strings of the most powerful people in Arabia and spoke such fluent arabic he could convince the soldiers he was from the village next to theirs. The movie would have you believe he was the driving force to the 'insurgency', but he writes of his actions in a much humbler tone. The most interesting part of the book occurs as the conflict draws to a close and he confesses to the reader his desire to give up and his disdain for the people he's lived with. It was a very honest and intimate look at how emotionally exhausted he was at the end. I hate to say it, but the movie was better, but this offers some insight into why the middle east is what it is today.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is one of the most famous books written about World War I, and it also perhaps represents the most unusual story. T.E. Lawrence, i.e. the same Lawrence of Arabia of 1960's technicolor fame played by Laurence Olivier, had spent his early adult years living in Syria and was unusually fluent in Arabic. When WWI broke out, he had a rare combination of skills that lay fallow until he was appointed as British liaison to Prince Feisal to support the Arab Revolt in the Hejaz against Turkey in 1916. There was probably no other single more auspicious personnel appointment in the Middle East than this one. With his Arabic fluency, appreciation of Beduin culture, and his rare energy and drive, Lawrence was absolutely unique in his ability to envisage and help lead the Arab Revolt. Time and time again he restored hope to Feisal and and Arab tribal chieftains with British encouragement and material backing. But even more than this, he personally led countless sabotage and military missions against Turkish railway communications and key positions, e.g. Akaba, Wejh, etc. He alone among British officers in the Middle East seems to have understood the fundamentals of guerrilla warfare - hit and run, propaganda, recruitment, plunder. Along with Feisal, he understood the absolute necessity of securing local chieftains' support and participation in their guerilla operations. (These are lessons American and British commanders currently in Iraq should consider. Informants during the Arab Revolt were especially dangerous in defeating guerrilla activities. Also, ongoing tribal conflicts often prevented combined attacks on the Turkish occupiers.) In fact, with Lawrence's charisma and near continual stream of successes he receives a steady flow of personal adherents who become his bodyguard force, towards the end of the war numbering over 90 persons. The book also explicitly describes his capture, torture, and escape in Deraa. But the vast majority of the book vividly captures his personal experiences during his continual travels across the expansive and geographically-varied Arabian peninsula. The book is not so much a historical narrative of the Arab Revolt as it is a personal narrative, by turns descriptive, poetic, anthropological, and philosophical. And although the book is generously complemented by numerous portraits of the 100+ personalities mentioned in the book, I found it difficult to remember each person's background and significance. Likewise, although there are a few maps in the book I had a great deal of trouble following his journeys on those maps. Finally, despite that a few chapters are written in high poetic style the majority of the book is easily read and comprehensible. An excellent adventure book with a truly unique story!
Guest More than 1 year ago
The phrase "fact is less believable than fiction" absolutely applies to this book. Not just to the book, but to the personal experiences the author recounts. Always an individual character, set apart from his peers this story is of true caliber well written and surprisingly reader freindly. Any person who has a dust speck of interest in adventure, not to mention travel, history and the world should read this book. It offers a fascinating glimpse of the attitutes of the time, complemented by an extraordinary man initially reluctant to tell this epic story. Perhaps this can offer some insight into current world events if only a small glimpse at a totally different culture and time.
Guest More than 1 year ago
When I saw that there were no reviews for this incredible book, I had to write one. Winston Churchill thought this was one of the greatest books ever written. Chairman Mao used it when planning guerilla war strategy. This book has it all: history, adventure, betrayal, epic splendor, exotic locale, and an introspective hero/antihero at the center. One of the best biographies I have ever read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Want to understand the bloody mess Americans find themselves in? Read this book. Lawrence made two accurate statements: All of Arabia wasn't worth the life of one single Englishman and that Britain wasn't honest with the Arabians. This book is a fantastic travelog of the Middle East, circa World War I. I have never seen the movie based on this book, but now that I've read it I will see it. Lawrence tends to stray from his subject at times, but overall an insightful read. It's interesting to note Lawrence writes that no sooner than the British remove the Turks than the Arab tribes already begin fighting one another in Damascus.
Guest More than 1 year ago
T.E. Lawrence narrates with passion and in his peculiar style the years he spent in the Middle East, first as archeologist before WWI then as ¿free agent¿ of the British government in its fight against Turkey and Germany during WWI. Lawrence knew from the beginning of the Arab campaign that he was a ¿fraud¿ because of the duplicity of the French and British. Lawrence rightly perceived that if the Arabs won the war against Turkey and its German ally, the powerbrokers of that time would steal from the Arabs the fruit of their victory. Promises of self-government afterwards would be dead paper. After the end of the hostilities, Lawrence skillfully advised King Feisal and his delegation to get as many of the spoils of war as possible from the victors at the Conference of Paris. After the conference, the French could largely be blamed for undermining the regime of King Feisal in Damascus and pushing him to ultimately leave for Baghdad. The contemporary Middle East could have been very different from what it is now. History has the annoying habit of repeating itself over time because of the widely shared inability of mankind to learn from past mistakes. Despite Lawrence¿s disclaimer in his introduction, his ¿Seven Pillars of Wisdom A Triumph¿ offers valuable lessons to a contemporary audience to better understand the enduring complexity of the Middle East. Whoever has had the chance to journey through the Middle East can vividly remember at least some locations that Lawrence describes. The Middle East is one of the cradles of the Western civilization. Its cultural heritage is almost unmatched. The ancient law of hospitality is not an urban legend, but remains a reality of which Semitic people can be proud. Lawrence understood very well that condescending attitude towards Semitic people could only backfire. Treating its inhabitants with respect and understanding earned him their enduring trust. For those who have not had the opportunity to crisscross the region, Lawrence¿s narration provides a rare opportunity to gain valuable insights into the minds of Semitic nations. For example: ¿Semitic people had no half tones in their register of vision. They knew only truth and untruth, belief and unbelief, without our hesitating retinue of finer shades. Semitic people never compromised; they pursued the logic of several incompatible opinions to absurd ends, without perceiving the incongruity (pg. 38).¿ Does it not sound familiar for example in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict today? ¿Semitic¿s largest manufacture was of creeds; almost Semitic people were monopolists of revealed religions (pg. 39-42).¿ Three of the most enduring faiths were born there and exported to the rest of the world with resounding success to this day. ¿Semitic tenacity showed itself in the many rebellions of Syria, Mesopotamia and Arabia against the grosser forms of Turkish penetration; and resistance was also made to the more insidious attempts at absorption (pg. 43-44).¿ ¿The Arabs had tasted freedom; they could not change their ideas as quickly as their conduct. Deprived of constitutional outlets the Arabs became revolutionary. The Arab societies went underground, and changed from liberal clubs into conspiracies (pg. 46).¿ ¿British forces won battle after battle in Iraq. There followed their rash advance to Ctesiphon, where they met native Turkish troops whose full heart was in the game, and were abruptly checked. They fell back, dazed; and the long misery of Kut began (pg. 59).¿ ¿Till the end of the war, the British in Mesopotamia remained substantially an alien force invading enemy territory, with the local people passively neutral or sullenly against them (pg. 60 see also pg. 636).¿ Does that assessment not sound similar to the experience of the Coalition forces in Iraq today? Working tirelessly by both indirect influence and education rather than by forceful direction is key to avoid becoming or remaining a target p
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is an incredible story. So much so, some historians discount Lawrence as a novelist as opposed to his first-hand account. Regardingless, Lawrence has insight into the tribes, alliances, ongoing feuds and the Muslim mindset of the early 20th century. The biggesst disappoint is that like so many books ported to Nook, there are dozens of typos that interrupt what would be an enjoyable flow to the book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was very long and hard to understand in certain parts but overall it was excellent. I learned about a part of history that I knew nothing about. really gives good insight into the arabian culture.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
T.E. Lawrence's Seven Pillars of Wisdom is a miraculous war story. It shows how a little-known soldier can leave behind the legacy of a war hero. Lawrence was a British intelligence officer during World War I, who was sought out to become the leader of British-supported revolts against the government of the Ottoman Empire. It was a difficult read, packed with details and at an abnormal pace. The book covers physical occurrences as well as his own psychological confusion. The book is an amazing epic, although he makes it known that he is not a perfect human. He points out the other soldiers and leaders who helped him through his journeys, and the hardships he struggled through as a rebel leader. Lawrence's actions are important to history because they helped the Allies overcome the Ottoman Empire during the war. Although he is the author and main protagonist of the book, it is clear that he did not stretch the truth for his own glory. I recommend this book not only as a great read, but also to delve deeper into how war twisted the morals of governments and peoples.
carlosmock 4 months ago
Seven Pillars of Wisdom by T. E. Lawrence The year is 1917, the setting is WWI, the place is Arabia. T. E. Lawrence's autobiographical tale which led to the movie "Lawrence of Arabia" is narrated from the first-person point of view is a tedious, long, and wonderful narration of the British Arabia campaign - or WWI's eastern front. Postured with a stalemate on the Western front, the British office in Cairo sends young Lawrence to explore the possibility of opening an eastern front by using the Arabs to fight the Ottoman Empire. By friending and understanding the needs of the multiple tribes that make up the Arab peninsula and their thirst for independence, Lawrence manages to organize an Arab insurgency that ends up taking over Damascus and helps win WWI for the allied forces. However, in 1916, the French and British forces had decided the future of Arabia (Asia Minor) with the Sykes–Picot Agreement. The agreement allocated to Britain control of areas roughly comprising the coastal strip between the Mediterranean Sea and the River Jordan, Jordan, southern Iraq, and an additional small area that included the ports of Haifa and Acre, to allow access to the Mediterranean. France got control of southeastern Turkey, northern Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon. Russia was to get Istanbul, the Turkish Straits, and Armenia. The controlling powers were left free to determine state boundaries within their areas. Given the Ottoman defeat in 1918 and the subsequent partitioning of the Ottoman Empire, the agreement effectively divided the Ottoman Arab provinces outside the Arabian peninsula into areas of British and French control and influence. Reading Lawrence description of the multiple tribes and customs in the area, it is clear that the made up frontiers of the countries were neither governable nor stable. The agreement is still mentioned when considering the region and its present-day conflicts. Lawrence prose is poetic and detailed. The dessert is viewed as property: "Men have looked upon the desert as barren land, the free holding of whoever choice; but in fact, each hill and valley in it had a man who was acknowledged owner and would quickly assert the right of his family or clan to it, against aggression." Fighting is an ideal: "As time went by our need to fight for the ideal increased to an unquestioning possession, riding with spur and rein over our doubts." Race: "At the same time I could not sincerely take the Arab skin: it was an affection only." Why Arabs fought: "...since the Arabs fought for freedom..." Even why they had homosexual sex: "They were an instance of eastern boy and boy affection which the segregation of women made inevitable." if you're going to read this book, give yourself a long time to do it. Rushing it would only make it both unbearable and frustrating. I think this book should be read by anyone who wants to understand today's Middle East conflict.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Must read for anyone interested in the geography of warfare. Also a jolly good yarn none the less by way of being a true story. Lawrence had gift for using understatement to make events and surroundings seem actually larger than life. His victorian english classicil education and his tendency to write freely as though telling the tale to friends over brandy after a good meal takes a little getting used to but is well worth the effort. Rather like reading an H.G.Wells first draft.
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Perhaps I decided to read this book because I had seen the movie Lawrence of Arabia many years ago and somehow thought the author would come across in his writings as dashing as he appeared in the movie. Alas, I was mistaken. While Lawrence writes fairly well, too much of the book is a description, in excruciating detail, of his movements between obscure places somewhere in Arabia. Occasionally he makes a cogent observation of the main players in the Arabic war against their Turkish masters during World War I (with the help of the British) but, overall, it was a slow read. However, if you have an interest in Middle Eastern politics, it is a book you should read. Just give yourself lots and lots of time to get through it.
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