Seven Pillars of Wisdom

Seven Pillars of Wisdom

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Overview

Seven Pillars of Wisdom is the autobiographical account of the experiences of British soldier Thomas Edward Lawrence ("Lawrence of Arabia"), while serving as a liaison officer with rebel forces during the Arab Revolt against the Ottoman Turks of 1916 to 1918. This is the 1926 edition of the Seven Pillars of Wisdom.

Thomas Edward Lawrence, CB, DSO (16 August 1888-19 May 1935), known professionally as T. E. Lawrence, was a British Army officer renowned especially for his liaison role during the Arab Revolt against Ottoman Turkish rule of 1916-18. The breadth and variety of his activities and associations, and his ability to describe them vividly in writing, earned him international fame as "Lawrence of Arabia".

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781843795537
Publisher: Naxos Audiobooks Ltd.
Publication date: 08/07/2012
Edition description: Unabridged
Pages: 20
Product dimensions: 5.30(w) x 5.50(h) x 1.10(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.

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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...