Seven Pillars of Wisdom

Seven Pillars of Wisdom

by T. E. Lawrence

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Overview

The basis for Lawrence of Arabia, this firsthand account of the Arab Revolt offers a colorful, poetic narrative and paints a fascinating portrait of the Middle East during World War I.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780486821498
Publisher: Dover Publications
Publication date: 04/18/2018
Series: Dover Thrift Editions Series
Pages: 688
Sales rank: 303,769
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 8.00(h) x (d)

About the Author

T. E. Lawrence (1888–1935) was one of five illegitimate 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.


Roy McMillan is a director, writer, actor, and an Earphones Award–winning narrator. Among his audiobook readings are Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes, A Dog’s Heart by Mikhail Bulgakov, and The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx.

Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER 1

THE DISCOVERY OF FEISAL

Chapters VIII to XVI

I had believed these misfortunes of the Revolt to be due mainly to faulty leadership, or rather to the lack of leadership, Arab and English. So I went down to Arabia to see and consider its great men. The first, the Sherif of Mecca, we knew to be aged. I found Abdulla too clever. Ali too clean, Zeid too cool.

Then I rode up-country to Feisal, and found in him the leader with the necessary fire, and yet with reason to give effect to our science. His tribesmen seemed sufficient instrument, and his hills to provide natural advantage. So I returned pleased and confident to Egypt, and told my chiefs how Mecca was defended not by the obstacle of Rabegh, but by the flank-threat of Feisal in Jebel Subh.

CHAPTER VIII

Waiting off Suez was the Lama, a small converted liner; and in her we left immediately. Such short voyages on warships were delicious interludes for us passengers. On this occasion, however, there was some embarrassment. Our mixed party seemed to disturb the ship's company in their own element. The juniors had turned out of their berths to give us night space, and by day we filled their living rooms with irregular talk. Storrs' intolerant brain seldom stooped to company. But to-day he was more abrupt than usual. He turned twice around the decks, sniffed, 'No one worth talking to', and sat down in one of the two comfortable armchairs, to begin a discussion of Debussy with Aziz el Masri (in the other). Aziz, the Arab-Circassian ex-colonel in the Turkish Army, now general in the Sherifian Army, was on his way to discuss with the Emir of Mecca the equipment and standing of the Arab regulars he was forming at Rabegh. A few minutes later they had left Debussy, and were depreciating Wagner: Aziz in fluent German, and Storrs in German, French and Arabic. The ship's officers found the whole conversation unnecessary.

We had the accustomed calm run to Jidda, in the delightful Red Sea climate, never too hot while the ship was moving. By day we lay in shadow; and for great part of the glorious nights we would tramp up and down the wet decks under the stars in the steaming breath of the southern wind. But when at last we anchored in the outer harbour, off the white town hung between the blazing sky and its reflection in the mirage which swept and rolled over the wide lagoon, then the heat of Arabia came out like a drawn sword and struck us speechless. It was midday; and the noon sun in the East, like moonlight, put to sleep the colours. There were only lights and shadows, the white houses and black gaps of streets: in front, the pallid lustre of the haze shimmering upon the inner harbour: behind, the dazzle of league after league of featureless sand, running up to an edge of low hills, faintly suggested in the far away mist of heat.

Just north of Jidda was a second group of black-white buildings, moving up and down like pistons in the mirage, as the ship rolled at anchor and the intermittent wind shifted the heat waves in the air. It looked and felt horrible. We began to regret that the inaccessibility which made the Hejaz militarily a safe theatre of revolt involved bad climate and unwholesomeness.

However, Colonel Wilson, British representative with the new Arab state, had sent his launch to meet us; and we had to go ashore to learn the reality of the men levitating in that mirage. Half an hour later Ruhi, Consular Oriental assistant, was grinning a delighted welcome to his old patron Storrs, (Ruhi the ingenious, more like a mandrake than a man), while the newly-appointed Syrian police and harbour officers, with a scratch guard of honour, lined the Customs Wharf in salutation of Aziz el Masri. Sherif Abdulla, the second son of the old man of Mecca, was reported just arriving in the town. He it was we had to meet; so our coming was auspiciously timed.

We walked past the white masonry of the still-building water gate, and through the oppressive alley of the food market on our way to the Consulate. In the air, from the men to the dates and back to the meat, squadrons of flies like particles of dust danced up and down the sun-shafts which stabbed into the darkest corners of the booths through torn places in the wood and sackcloth awnings overhead. The atmosphere was like a bath. The scarlet leathers of the armchair on the Lama's deck had dyed Storrs' white tunic and trousers as bright as themselves in their damp contact of the last four days, and now the sweat running in his clothes began to shine like varnish through the stain. I was so fascinated watching him that I never noticed the deepened brown of my khaki drill wherever it touched my body. He was wondering if the walk to the Consulate was long enough to wet me a decent, solid, harmonious colour; and I was wondering if all he ever sat on would grow scarlet as himself.

We reached the Consulate too soon for either hope; and there in a shaded room with an open lattice behind him sat Wilson, prepared to welcome the sea breeze, which had lagged these last few days. He received us stiffly, being of the honest, downright Englishmen, to whom Storrs was suspect, if only for his artistic sense: while his contact with me in Cairo had been a short difference of opinion as to whether native clothes were an indignity for us. I had called them uncomfortable merely. To him they were wrong. Wilson, however, despite his personal feelings, was all for the game. He had made preparations for the coming interview with Abdulla, and was ready to afford every help he could. Besides, we were his guests; and the splendid hospitality of the East was near his spirit.

Abdulla, on a white mare, came to us softly with a bevy of richly-armed slaves on foot about him, through the silent respectful salutes of the town. He Was flushed with his success at Taif, and happy. I was seeing him for the first time, while Storrs was an old friend, and on the best of terms; yet, before long, as they spoke together, I began to suspect him of a constant cheerfulness. His eyes had a confirmed twinkle; and though only thirty-five, he was putting on flesh. It might be due to too much laughter. Life seemed very merry for Abdulla. He was short, strong, fair-skinned, with a carefully trimmed brown beard, masking his round smooth face and short lips. In manner he was open, or affected openness, and was charming on acquaintance. He stood not on ceremony, but jested with all comers in most easy fashion: yet, when we fell into serious talk, the veil of humour seemed to fade away. He then chose his words, and argued shrewdly. Of course, he was in discussion with Storrs, who demanded a high standard from his opponent.

The Arabs thought Abdulla a far-seeing statesman and an astute politician. Astute he certainly was, but not greatly enough to convince us always of his sincerity. His ambition was patent. Rumour made him the brain of his father and of the Arab revolt; but he seemed too easy for that. His object was, of course, the winning of Arab independence and the building up of Arab nations, but he meant to keep the direction of the new states in the family. So he watched us, and played through us to the British gallery.

On our part, I was playing for effect, watching, criticizing him. The Sherif's rebellion had been unsatisfactory for the last few months: (standing still, which, with an irregular war, was the prelude to disaster): and my suspicion was that its lack was leadership: not intellect, nor judgement, nor political wisdom, but the flame of enthusiasm, that would set the desert on fire. My visit was mainly to find the yet unknown master-spirit of the affair, and measure his capacity to carry the revolt to the goal I had conceived for it. As our conversation continued, I became more and more sure that Abdulla was too balanced, too cool, too humorous to be a prophet: especially the armed prophet who, if history be true, succeeded in revolutions. His value would come perhaps in the peace after success. During the physical struggle, when singleness of eye and magnetism, devotion and self-sacrifice were needed, Abdulla would be a tool too complex for a simple purpose, though he could not be ignored, even now.

We talked to him first about the state of Jidda, to put him at ease by discussing at this first of our interviews the unnecessary subject of the Sherif's administration. He replied that the war was yet too much with them for civil government. They had inherited the Turkish system in the towns, and were continuing it on a more modest scale. The Turkish Government was often not unkind to strong men, who obtained considerable licence on terms. Consequently, some of the licensees in Hejaz regretted the coming of a native ruler. Particularly in Mecca and Jidda public opinion was against an Arab state. The mass of citizens were foreigners — Egyptians, Indians, Javanese, Africans, and others — quite unable to sympathize with the Arab aspirations, especially as voiced by Beduin; for the Beduin lived on what he could exact from the stranger on his roads, or in his valleys; and he and the townsman bore each other a perpetual grudge.

The Beduins were the only fighting men the Sherif had got; and on their help the revolt depended. He was arming them freely, paying many of them for their service in his forces, feeding their families while they were from home, and hiring from them their transport camels to maintain his armies in the field. Accordingly, the country was prosperous, while the towns went short.

Another grievance in the towns was in the matter of law. The Turkish civil code had been abolished, and a return made to the old religious law, the undiluted Koranic procedure of the Arab Kadi. Abdulla explained to us, with a giggle, that when there was time they would discover in the Koran such opinions and judgements as were required to make it suitable for modern commercial operations, like banking and exchange. Meanwhile, of course, what townsmen lost by the abolition of the civil law, the Beduins gained. Sherif Hussein had silently sanctioned the restoration of the old tribal order. Beduins at odds with one another pleaded their own cases before the tribal lawman, an office hereditary in one most-respected family, and recognized by the payment of a goat per household as yearly due. Judgement was based on custom, by quoting from a great body of remembered precedent. It was delivered publicly without fee. In cases between men of different tribes, the lawman was selected by mutual consent, or recourse was had to the lawman of a third tribe. If the case were contentious and difficult, the judge was supported by a jury of four — two nominated by plaintiff from the ranks of defendant's family, and two by defendant from plaintiff's family. Decisions were always unanimous.

We contemplated the vision Abdulla drew for us, with sad thoughts of the Garden of Eden and all that Eve, now lying in her tomb just outside the wall, had lost for average humanity; and then Storrs brought me into the discussion by asking Abdulla to give us his views on the state of the campaign for my benefit, and for communication to headquarters in Egypt. Abdulla at once grew serious, and said that he wanted to urge upon the British their immediate and very personal concern in the matter, which he tabulated so: —

By our neglect to cut the Hejaz Railway, the Turks had been able to collect transport and supplies for the reinforcement of Medina.

Feisal had been driven back from the town; and the enemy was preparing a mobile column of all arms for an advance on Rabegh.

The Arabs in the hills across their road were by our neglect too weak in supplies, machine guns and artillery to defend them long.

Hussein Mabeirig, chief of the Masruh Harb, had joined the Turks. If the Medina column advanced, the Harb would join it.

It would only remain for his father to put himself at the head of his own people of Mecca and to die fighting before the Holy City.

At this moment the telephone rang: the Grand Sherif wanted to speak to Abdulla. He was told of the point our conversation had reached, and at once confirmed that he would so act in the extremity. The Turks would enter Mecca over his dead body. The telephone rang off; and Abdulla, smiling a little, asked, to prevent such a disaster, that a British brigade, if possible of Moslem troops, be kept at Suez, with transport to rush it to Rabegh as soon as the Turks debouched from Medina in their attack. What did we think of the proposal?

I replied; first, historically, that Sherif Hussein had asked us not to cut the Hejaz line, since he would need it for his victorious advance into Syria; second, practically, that the dynamite we sent down for demolitions had been returned by him with a note that it was too dangerous for Arab use; third, specifically, that we had had no demands for equipment from Feisal.

With regard to the brigade for Rabegh, it was a complicated question. Shipping was precious; and we could not hold empty transport indefinitely at Suez. We had no Moslem units in our Army. A British brigade was a cumbersome affair, and would take long to embark and disembark. The Rabegh position was large. A brigade would hardly hold it and would be quite unable to detach a force to prevent a Turkish column slipping past it inland. The most they could do would be to defend the beach, under a ship's guns and the ship could do that as well without the troops.

Abdulla replied that ships were insufficient morally, as the Dardanelles fighting had destroyed the old legend of the British Navy and its omnipotence. No Turks could slip past Rabegh; for it was the only water supply in the district, and they must water at its wells. The earmarking of a brigade and transports need be only temporary; for he was taking his victorious Taif troops up the eastern road from Mecca to Medina. As soon as he was in position, he would give orders to Ali and Feisal, who would close in from the south and west, and their combined forces would deliver a grand attack in which Medina would, please God, be taken. Meanwhile, Aziz el Masri was moulding the volunteers from Mesopotamia and Syria into battalions at Rabegh. When we had added the Arab prisoners of war from India and Egypt, there would be enough to take over the duties momentarily allotted to the British brigade.

I said that I would represent his views to Egypt, but that the British were reluctant to spare troops from the vital defence of Egypt (though he was not to imagine that the Canal was in any danger from the Turks) and, still more, to send Christians to defend the people of the Holy City against their enemies; as some Moslems in India, who considered the Turkish Government had an imprescriptible right to the Haramein, would misrepresent our motives and action. I thought that I might perhaps urge his opinions more powerfully if I was able to report on the Rabegh question in the light of my own knowledge of the position and local feeling. I would also like to see Feisal, and talk over with him his needs and the prospects of a prolonged defence of his hills by the tribesmen if we strengthened them materially. I would like to ride from Rabegh up the Sultani road towards Medina as far as Feisal's camp.

Storrs then came in and supported me with all his might, urging the vital importance of full and early information from a trained observer for the British Commander-in-Chief in Egypt, and showing that his sending down me, his best qualified and most indispensable staff officer, proved the serious consideration being given to Arabian affairs by Sir Archibald Murray. Abdulla went to the telephone and tried to get his father's consent to my going up country. The Sherif viewed the proposal with grave distrust. Abdulla argued the point, made some advantage, and transferred the mouthpiece to Storrs, who turned all his diplomacy on the old man. Storrs in full blast was a delight to listen to in the mere matter of Arabic speech, and also a lesson to every English--man alive of how to deal with suspicious or unwilling Orientals. It was nearly impossible to resist him for more than a few minutes, and in this case also he had his way. The Sherif asked again for Abdulla, and authorized him to write to Ali, and suggest that if he thought fit, and if conditions were normal, I might be allowed to proceed to Feisal in Jebel Subh; and Abdulla, under Storrs' influence, transformed this guarded message into direct written instructions to Ali to mount me as well and as quickly as possible, and convey me, by sure hand, to Feisal's camp. This being all I wanted, and half what Storrs wanted, we adjourned for lunch.

CHAPTER IX

Jeddah had pleased us, on our way to the Consulate: so after lunch, when it was a little cooler, or at least when the sun was not so high, we wandered out to see the sights under the guidance of Young, Wilson's assistant, a man who found good in many old things, but little good in things now being made.

(Continues…)



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Table of Contents

INTRODUCTORY CHAPTER

INTRODUCTION: FOUNDATIONS OF REVOLT

BOOK I: THE DISCOVERY OF FEISAL

BOOK II: OPENING THE ARAB OFFENSIVE

BOOK III: A RAILWAY DIVERSION

BOOK IV: EXTENDING TO AKABA

BOOK V: MARKING TIME

BOOK VI: THE RAID UPON THE BRIDGES

BOOK VII: THE DEAD SEA CAMPAIGN

BOOK VIII: THE RUIN OF HIGH HOPE

BOOK IX: BALANCING FOR A LAST EFFORT

BOOK X: THE HOUSE IS PERFECTED

EPILOGUE:

APPENDIX I

APPENDIX II

INDEX TO PLACE NAMES

PERSONAL INDEX

List of Drawings by Eric Kennington:

A FORCED LANDING WIND

A MISCARRIAGE

KINGERGARTEN

A LITERARY METHOD

CAESAR

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Seven Pillars of Wisdom 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 51 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.
lriley on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A great book. Beautifully written. Chronicles the WW I desert campaign that he helped to organize and in some respects lead. Like my previous review of Malaparte's Kaputt (WW II) the prose is elegant and appealing to the eye even if what it often describes is man in his cruelty to other men. Again like Malaparte's book it is not really fiction but it has an appeal like it--in its flow--in Lawrence's natural talent to use fictional devices. This would be one book that GWB and his neo-con friends might have thought of reading before they invaded Iraq. The area is something of the same quagmire then as it is now. Unfortunately Laura does all the reading at the White House. The president looks them in the eye and then deep into their souls. For what that is worth--it just doesn't seem enough. In any case this is a book worthy of attention especially in these times.
charlie68 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A riveting ride through the desert with this man and his cohorts as they battle the Turks. From a small beginning they accomplish the seemingly impossible, the collapse of the Ottoman Empire.
Johne37179 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Anyone interested in events in Iraq cannot possibly place them in perspective without reading this book. This book about the Arab Rebellion of 1912 and the roll of Western Society/Democracy could be playing out today. The issues on the ground that face the indigenous people have not changed, only the names have changed. While we are not currently playing out the 19th Century Colonial roll, the local issues are spot on. This book reads like the headlines from the region. History has a way of thumbing its nose at those who ignore it.
amerynth on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I read Michael Asher's "Lawrence: The Uncrowned King of Arabia" and enjoyed it so much that I wanted to read about the Arab Revolt in T.E. Lawrence's own words. Unfortunately, I only managed to get about half-way through the book... it was incredibly tedious and filled with minute detail that I found uninteresting (as someone who is merely casually interested in Arabian history.) This is probably a great tome for someone interested in serious study of Middle Eastern history... but for readers like me (who are more interested in adventure stories and more generalized history) this book is too plodding to enjoy.
steve_d27 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
If the US had read this twice before going into Iraq a second time, things could be different.
Polaris- on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A monumental book. Recounts in extensive detail the Arab revolt against the Ottomans during WW1 and how the British Army's Arabists played their parts. Lawrence's account has its great moments of prose.
amandrake on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Big, sprawling, and better than you'd think. I'm not a history buff and never will be, but this book is interesting, probably due to T.E. Lawrence's very quirky personality.
JBreedlove on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
An excellent account of Lawrences years in Arabia. Well written and full of insights. Many of the politically incorrect type.
mwlrh on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
If you want to understand the genesis of the modern Middle East and the attentive problems of today, this is a great book to start with. T.E. Lawrence writes with the fluidity of a poet, even if the narrative is a bit heavy in places because of the practice of the time to tell everything in detail. The movie is a good companion to this book, but the book is the main event. You just can't believe that one person had this grand adventure.
meegeekai on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a tough read but one of the most interesting books on the Middle East you will ever read. This is the book that the movie, Lawrence of Arabia, was based on. What is interesting is, like the the book Europes Last Summer, it gives you a very different look at the causes for some of todays biggest issues, including the current war in Iraq. T.E.Lawrence was a genius and a leader. He got it rigth, but was put down by the higher echalon in power at the time. He was prophetic and predicted the problems we now have back in 1926. To understand why we have problems in the Middle East, you have to read this book.
benjaminorbach on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Beyond the insights and history, this book is beautifully written.
robertsgirl on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Written between 1919 and 1926, this text tells of the campaign aganist the Turks in the Middle East, encompassing gross acts of cruelty and revenge, ending in a welter of stink and corpses in a Damascus hospital.Superb book. Must read.
PghDragonMan on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book belongs on the bookshelf of any student of World Politics and / or Middle East Politics in particular. Despite the passing of the years, little has changed, other than some arbitrary borders being redrawn, in Arab politics since Lawrence's account was first published. The same problems that stymied the British in the early 20th Century are still preventing peace in the region today.An excellent work and an excellent autobiography.
jwhenderson on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
T. E. Lawrence's masterpiece was published in 1926 even though he wrote most of it about 1919 following his return from the desert. Reading this classic account of Lawrence's exploits is both exhilarating and informative. I am impressed by his depiction of Arab culture of the time and its seeming connection with past and present. The importance of tales told around the hearth as the heart of Arab culture seems to be similar to the culture encountered by Muhammad as he was growing up centuries earlier. Further, Lawrence's keen ability to describe his surroundings and bring the events, of which he was often the center, alive is shown in almost every chapter. The portraits of the Arab leaders from Abdulla and Auda to Feisel are fascinating in their detail and psychological insight. Lawrence, it seems, was born for this journey and fated to share it with us. T. E. Lawrence acted upon his dream 'with open eyes' and made it happen. In a book filled with deception he gives us a view into the world before the end of World War I changed everything. We see the various Arab factions and the deals made with the British. More importantly we are given insight into the men through Lawrence's eyes, his acute judgement, and his poetic narrative. He notes the keys to the Arab Revolt in the common language they shared and their heritage of the greatness that existed under the Caliphs going back to the six centuries following the death of Muhammad. We share in his pangs of conscience and his judgements of others and his own life and actions. He notes that "feeling and illusion were at war within me" and it reminds me of the birth of modernity with Faustian man. Also important are his comments on the British in the Middle East and the nature of the soldier in war. Ultimately I was moved and found support for my own subjunctive mood in this inspirational book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It is so very interesting to read his observations on the people he worked with in Arabia...