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Lawrence in Arabia: War, Deceit, Imperial Folly and the Making of the Modern Middle Eastby Scott Anderson
Synopses & Reviews
A thrilling and revelatory narrative of one of the most epic and consequential periods in 20th century history — the Arab Revolt, and the secret game to control the Middle East.
The Arab Revolt against the Turks in World War One was, in the words of T.E. Lawrence, "a sideshow to a sideshow." As a result, the conflict was shaped to a remarkable degree by a small handful of adventurers and low-level officers far removed from the corridors of power. Curt Pruefer was an academic attached to the German embassy in Cairo, whose clandestine role was to foment jihad against British rule. Aaron Aaronsohn was a renowned agronomist and committed Zionist who gained the trust of the Ottoman governor of Palestine even as he built an elaborate anti-Ottoman spy ring. William Yale was the fallen scion of the American aristocracy, who traveled the Ottoman Empire on behalf of Standard Oil, dissembling to the Turks in order to gain valuable oil concessions. At the center of it all was Lawrence. In early 1914 he was an archaeologist digging ruins in Syria; by 1917 he was riding into legend at the head of an Arab army, as he fought a rearguard action against his own government and its imperial ambitions.
Based on four years of intensive primary document research, Lawrence in Arabia definitively overturns received wisdom on how the modern Middle East was formed. Sweeping in its action, keen in its portraiture, acid in its condemnation of the destruction wrought by European colonial plots, this is a book that brilliantly captures the way in which the folly of the past creates the anguish of the present.
"A well-fleshed portrait of T.E. Lawrence brought in burnished relief against other scoundrels in the Arabian narrative....A lively, contrasting study of hubris and humility." Kirkus Reviews
“Lawrence of Arabia is said to have reinvented warfare, and Scott Anderson has now reinvented Lawrence. By placing him alongside the other adventurers and spies who roamed the Arabian war theater, Anderson brilliantly illuminates how the modern Middle East came to be. The research in this book is so daringly original, and the writing so spectacular, that it feels like I'm reading about the topic for the first time. A deep and utterly captivating reading experience.” Sebastian Junger, New York Times bestselling author of War and The Perfect Storm
"A startlingly rich and revealing portrait of one of history’s most iconic figures. Equally satisfying is the cast of obscure German and American agents nearly as eccentric as Lawrence himself. They exercised such outsized influence on shaping the world as we know it that reading about them here is not only revelatory but practically surreal. Anderson is an exquisite writer and dogged researcher, whose accounts of century-old brutalities are made utterly convincing by the knowledge that he has personally witnessed the sort of offhanded horror he’s unearthed in archives. Lovers of big 20th-century history will be in nirvana." Tom Reiss, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Black Count and The Orientalist
"An amazing accomplishment. Lawrence in Arabia captures the bravado, surreality, grandeur of the Middle East in the birth throes of the 20th century. Anderson employs the highest order of dramatic narrative to create an indelible portrait of a great and enduring figure of war and politics. Along for the show is a cast of characters drawn straight from Graham Greene. This is history of the most vivid and relevant order." Doug Stanton, New York Times bestselling author of Horse Soldiers and In Harm's Way
Lawrence in Arabia is a work of serious research and powerful insight, but it is so rich in incredible stories and glittering details that it felt like a guilty pleasure while I was reading it. Completely absorbing, sweeping in scope and riveting from the first word, this is a book that will stay with me for a long time.” Candice Millard, New York Times bestselling author of Destiny of the Republic and River of Doubt
“Few characters in history can match T.E. Lawrence for adventure, intrigue, or sheer enigma. Scott Anderson, an indefatigable reporter well-acquainted with the Arab world, has carefully reconstructed Lawrence's shadowy realm. Anderson shows how Lawrence, along with a surprisingly small cast of lesser-known rogues and operatives, laid the groundwork, wittingly or not, for the mess that is the modern Middle East. Here is an intimate history painted on a very large canvas, with one fantastically charismatic — and fabulously flawed — man at the dusty center of the tale.” Hampton Sides, New York Times bestselling author of Ghost Soldiers and Hellhound on His Trail
About the Author
Scott Anderson is a veteran war correspondent whose work frequently appears in New York Times Magazine and Vanity Fair.
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