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Seven Pillars of Wisdom

Seven Pillars of Wisdom

3.9 39
by T. E. Lawrence, Robert Fisk (Introduction)

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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 who helped shape the Middle East as it exists today.


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 who helped shape the Middle East as it exists today.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal

Join Lawrence (1888–1935) in his 1917–18 campaigns against the forces of the Ottoman Empire. This abridgment, skillfully narrated by British actor James Wilby, derives from the 1926 print edition of a work Winston Churchill called "one of the greatest books ever written in the English language." Wilby draws the listener into Lawrence's desert adventures and personal observations, managing to avoid melodrama when reading his descriptions of torture, battle, and death. Strongly recommended for listeners of military history, autobiography, travel narrative, or Arab history. [More info at www.csaword.co.uk.—Ed.]—J. Sara Paulk, Fitzgerald-Ben Hill Cty. Lib., GA

—J. Sara Paulk

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Knopf Publishing Group
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Product dimensions:
5.00(w) x 7.75(h) x 1.50(d)

Read an Excerpt

Seven Pillars of Wisdom

By T. E. Lawrence


Copyright © 2015 Open Road Integrated Media, Inc.
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4804-4267-2


SOME OF THE EVIL of my tale may have been inherent in our circumstances. For years we lived anyhow with one another in the naked desert, under the indifferent heaven. By day the hot sun fermented us; and we were dizzied by the beating wind. At night we were stained by dew, and shamed into pettiness by the innumerable silences of stars. We were a self-centred army without parade or gesture, devoted to freedom, the second of man's creeds, a purpose so ravenous that it devoured all our strength, a hope so transcendent that our earlier ambitions faded in its glare.

As time went by our need to fight for the ideal increased to an unquestioning possession, riding with spur and rein over our doubts. Willy-nilly it became a faith. We had sold ourselves into its slavery, manacled ourselves together in its chain-gang, bowed ourselves to serve its holiness with all our good and ill content. The mentality of ordinary human slaves is terrible — they have lost the world — and we had surrendered, not body alone, but soul to the overmastering greed of victory. By our own act we were drained of morality, of volition, of responsibility, like dead leaves in the wind.

The everlasting battle stripped from us care of our own lives or of others'. We had ropes about our necks, and on our heads prices which showed that the enemy intended hideous tortures for us if we were caught. Each day some of us passed; and the living knew themselves just sentient puppets on God's stage: indeed, our taskmaster was merciless, merciless, so long as our bruised feet could stagger forward on the road. The weak envied those tired enough to die; for success looked so remote, and failure a near and certain, if sharp, release from toil. We lived always in the stretch or sag of nerves, either on the crest or in the trough of waves of feeling. This impotency was bitter to us, and made us live only for the seen horizon, reckless what spite we inflicted or endured, since physical sensation showed itself meanly transient. Gusts of cruelty, perversions, lusts ran lightly over the surface without troubling us; for the moral laws which had seemed to hedge about these silly accidents must be yet fainter words. We had learned that there were pangs too sharp, griefs too deep, ecstasies too high for our finite selves to register. When emotion reached this pitch the mind choked; and memory went white till the circumstances were humdrum once more.

Such exaltation of thought, while it let adrift the spirit, and gave it licence in strange airs, lost it the old patient rule over the body. The body was too coarse to feel the utmost of our sorrows and of our joys. Therefore, we abandoned it as rubbish: we left it below us to march forward, a breathing simulacrum, on its own unaided level, subject to influences from which in normal times our instincts would have shrunk. The men were young and sturdy; and hot flesh and blood unconsciously claimed a right in them and tormented their bellies with strange longings. Our privations and dangers fanned this virile heat, in a climate as racking as can be conceived. We had no shut places to be alone in, no thick clothes to hide our nature. Man in all things lived candidly with man.

The Arab was by nature continent; and the use of universal marriage had nearly abolished irregular courses in his tribes. The public women of the rare settlements we encountered in our months of wandering would have been nothing to our numbers, even had their raddled meat been palatable to a man of healthy parts. In horror of such sordid commerce our youths began indifferently to slake one another's few needs in their own clean bodies — a cold convenience that, by comparison, seemed sexless and even pure. Later, some began to justify this sterile process, and swore that friends quivering together in the yielding sand with intimate hot limbs in supreme embrace, found there hidden in the darkness a sensual co-efficient of the mental passion which was welding our souls and spirits in one flaming effort. Several, thirsting to punish appetites they could not wholly prevent, took a savage pride in degrading the body, and offered themselves fiercely in any habit which promised physical pain or filth.

I was sent to these Arabs as a stranger, unable to think their thoughts or subscribe their beliefs, but charged by duty to lead them forward and to develop to the highest any movement of theirs profitable to England in her war. If I could not assume their character, I could at least conceal my own, and pass among them without evident friction, neither a discord nor a critic but an unnoticed influence. Since I was their fellow, I will not be their apologist or advocate. To-day in my old garments, I could play the bystander, obedient to the sensibilities of our theatre ... but it is more honest to record that these ideas and actions then passed naturally. What now looks wanton or sadic seemed in the field inevitable, or just unimportant routine.

Blood was always on our hands: we were licensed to it. Wounding and killing seemed ephemeral pains, so very brief and sore was life with us. With the sorrow of living so great, the sorrow of punishment had to be pitiless. We lived for the day and died for it. When there was reason and desire to punish we wrote our lesson with gun or whip immediately in the sullen flesh of the sufferer, and the case was beyond appeal. The desert did not afford the refined slow penalties of courts and gaols.

Of course our rewards and pleasures were as suddenly sweeping as our troubles; but, to me in particular, they bulked less large. Bedouin ways were hard even for those brought up to them, and for strangers terrible: a death in life. When the march or labour ended I had no energy to record sensation, nor while it lasted any leisure to see the spiritual loveliness which sometimes came upon us by the way. In my notes, the cruel rather than the beautiful found place. We no doubt enjoyed more the rare moments of peace and forgetfulness; but I remember more the agony, the terrors, and the mistakes. Our life is not summed up in what I have written (there are things not to be repeated in cold blood for very shame); but what I have written was in and of our life. Pray God that men reading the story will not, for love of the glamour of strangeness, go out to prostitute themselves and their talents in serving another race.

A man who gives himself to be a possession of aliens leads a Yahoo life, having bartered his soul to a brute-master. He is not of them. He may stand against them, persuade himself of a mission, batter and twist them into something which they, of their own accord, would not have been. Then he is exploiting his old environment to press them out of theirs. Or, after my model, he may imitate them so well that they spuriously imitate him back again. Then he is giving away his own environment: pretending to theirs; and pretences are hollow, worthless things. In neither case does he do a thing of himself, nor a thing so clean as to be his own (without thought of conversion), letting them take what action or reaction they please from the silent example.

In my case, the effort for these years to live in the dress of Arabs, and to imitate their mental foundation, quitted me of my English self, and let me look at the West and its conventions with new eyes: they destroyed it all for me. At the same time I could not sincerely take on the Arab skin: it was an affectation only. Easily was a man made an infidel, but hardly might he be converted to another faith. I had dropped one form and not taken on the other, and was become like Mohammed's coffin in our legend, with a resultant feeling of intense loneliness in life, and a contempt, not for other men, but for all they do. Such detachment came at times to a man exhausted by prolonged physical effort and isolation. His body plodded on mechanically, while his reasonable mind left him, and from without looked down critically on him, wondering what that futile lumber did and why. Sometimes these selves would converse in the void; and then madness was very near, as I believe it would be near the man who could see things through the veils at once of two customs, two educations, two environments.


A FIRST DIFFICULTY OF the Arab movement was to say who the Arabs were. Being a manufactured people, their name had been changing in sense slowly year by year. Once it meant an Arabian. There was a country called Arabia; but this was nothing to the point. There was a language called Arabic; and in it lay the test. It was the current tongue of Syria and Palestine, of Mesopotamia, and of the great peninsula called Arabia on the map. Before the Moslem conquest, these areas were inhabited by diverse peoples, speaking languages of the Arabic family. We called them Semitic, but (as with most scientific terms) incorrectly. However, Arabic, Assyrian, Babylonian, Phoenician, Hebrew, Aramaic and Syriac were related tongues; and indications of common influences in the past, or even of a common origin, were strengthened by our knowledge that the appearances and customs of the present Arabic-speaking peoples of Asia, while as varied as a field — full of poppies, had an equal and essential likeness. We might with perfect propriety call them cousins — and cousins certainly, if sadly, aware of their own relationship.

The Arabic-speaking areas of Asia in this sense were a rough parallelogram. The northern side ran from Alexandretta, on the Mediterranean, across Mesopotamia eastward to the Tigris. The south side was the edge of the Indian Ocean, from Aden to Muscat. On the west it was bounded by the Mediterranean, the Suez Canal, and the Red Sea to Aden. On the east by the Tigris, and the Persian Gulf to Muscat. This square of land, as large as India, formed the homeland of our Semites, in which no foreign race had kept a permanent footing, though Egyptians, Hittites, Philistines, Persians, Greeks, Romans, Turks and Franks had variously tried. All had in the end been broken, and their scattered elements drowned in the strong characteristics of the Semitic race. Semites had sometimes pushed outside this area, and themselves been drowned in the outer world. Egypt, Algiers, Morocco, Malta, Sicily, Spain, Cilicia and France absorbed and obliterated Semitic colonies. Only in Tripoli of Africa, and in the everlasting miracle of Jewry, had distant Semites kept some of their identity and force.

The origin of these peoples was an academic question; but for the understanding of their revolt their present social and political differences were important, and could only be grasped by looking at their geography. This continent of theirs fell into certain great regions, whose gross physical diversities imposed varying habits on the dwellers in them. On the west the parallelogram was framed, from Alexandretta to Aden, by a mountain belt, called (in the north) Syria, and thence progressively southward called Palestine, Midian, Hejaz, and lastly Yemen. It had an average height of perhaps three thousand feet, with peaks of ten to twelve thousand feet. It faced west, was well watered with rain and cloud from the sea, and in general was fully peopled.

Another range of inhabited hills, facing the Indian Ocean, was the south edge of the parallelogram. The eastern frontier was at first an alluvial plain called Mesopotamia, but south of Basra a level littoral, called Kuweit, and Hasa, to Gattar. Much of this plain was peopled. These inhabited hills and plains framed a gulf of thirsty desert, in whose heart was an archipelago of watered and populous oases called Kasim and Aridh. In this group of oases lay the true centre of Arabia, the preserve of its native spirit, and its most conscious individuality. The desert lapped it round and kept it pure of contact.

The desert which performed this great function around the oases, and so made the character of Arabia, varied in nature. South of the oases it appeared to be a pathless sea of sand, stretching nearly to the populous escarpment of the Indian Ocean shore, shutting it out from Arabian history, and from all influence on Arabian morals and politics. Hadhramaut, as they called this southern coast, formed part of the history of the Dutch Indies; and its thought swayed Java rather than Arabia. To the west of the oases, between them and the Hejaz hills, was the Nejd desert, an area of gravel and lava, with little sand in it. To the east of these oases, between them and Kuweit, spread a similar expanse of gravel, but with some great stretches of soft sand, making the road difficult. To the north of the oases lay a belt of sand, and then an immense gravel and lava plain, filling up everything between the eastern edge of Syria and the banks of the Euphrates where Mesopotamia began. The practicability of this northern desert for men and motor-cars enabled the Arab revolt to win its ready success.

The hills of the west and the plains of the east were the parts of Arabia always most populous and active. In particular on the west, the mountains of Syria and Palestine, of Hejaz and Yemen, entered time and again into the current of our European life. Ethically, these fertile healthy hills were in Europe, not in Asia, just as the Arabs looked always to the Mediterranean, not to the Indian Ocean, for their cultural sympathies, for their enterprises, and particularly for their expansions, since the migration problem was the greatest and most complex force in Arabia, and general to it, however it might vary in the different Arabic districts.

In the north (Syria) the birth rate was low in the cities and the death rate high, because of the insanitary conditions and the hectic life led by the majority. Consequently the surplus peasantry found openings in the towns, and were there swallowed up. In the Lebanon, where sanitation had been improved, a greater exodus of youth took place to America each year, threatening (for the first time since Greek days) to change the outlook of an entire district.

In Yemen the solution was different. There was no foreign trade, and no massed industries to accumulate population in unhealthy places. The towns were just market towns, as clean and simple as ordinary villages. Therefore the population slowly increased; the scale of living was brought down very low; and a congestion of numbers was generally felt. They could not emigrate overseas; for the Sudan was even worse country than Arabia, and the few tribes which did venture across were compelled to modify their manner of life and their Semitic culture profoundly, in order to exist. They could not move northward along the hills; for these were barred by the holy town of Mecca and its port Jidda: an alien belt, continually reinforced by strangers from India and Java and Bokhara and Africa, very strong in vitality, violently hostile to the Semitic consciousness, and maintained despite economics and geography and climate by the artificial factor of a world-religion. The congestion of Yemen, therefore, becoming extreme, found its only relief in the east, by forcing the weaker aggregations of its border down and down the slopes of the hills along the Widian, the half-waste district of the great water-bearing valleys of Bisha, Dawasir, Ranya and Taraba, which ran out towards the deserts of Nejd. These weaker clans had continually to exchange good springs and fertile palms for poorer springs and scantier palms, till at last they reached an area where a proper agricultural life became impossible. They then began to eke out their precarious husbandry by breeding sheep and camels, and in time came to depend more and more on these herds for their living.

Finally, under a last impulse from the straining population behind them, the border people (now almost wholly pastoral), were flung out of the furthest crazy oasis into the untrodden wilderness as nomads. This process, to be watched to-day with individual families and tribes to whose marches an exact name and date might be put, must have been going on since the first day of full settlement of Yemen. The Widian below Mecca and Taif are crowded with the memories and place-names of half a hundred tribes which have gone from there, and may be found to-day in Nejd, in Jebel Sham-mar, in the Hamad, even on the frontiers of Syria and Mesopotamia. There was the source of migration, the factory of nomads, the springing of the gulf-stream of desert wanderers.


Excerpted from Seven Pillars of Wisdom by T. E. Lawrence. Copyright © 2015 Open Road Integrated Media, Inc.. Excerpted by permission of OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIA.
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Meet the Author

T.E. LAWRENCE children born to the Seventh Baron of Westmeath. He studied at Jesus College, Oxford where he became interested in the Middle East.He worked for British Intelligence during the First World War and fought with the Arab forces to defeat the Turks.His exploits earned him the title of 'Lawrence of Arabia' back in Britain.Her resigned in 1922 and sought anonymity in the RAF where he enlisted as John Hume Ross.He later changed his name by deed poll to T.E. Shaw. Shortly after retiring from the RAF, T.E. Lawrence died in a motorcycle accident on May 119, 935.

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Seven Pillars of Wisdom 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 39 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.
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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