Sarah Forth, March 6, 2014 (view all comments by Sarah Forth)
If the subject weren't so serious, I'd call Lawrence in Arabia a thrilling tale of adventure. Anderson has taken a cluster of the period's bold personalities and, drawing on their letters and diaries, braids together their stories to form a multi-faceted narrative of WW I's Middle Eastern front. There's the German spymaster, a Zionist agronomist, Standard Oil's man in the Mid-East, and a clutch of British officers, some with more discernment than others. Anderson is quite sympathetic to T.E. Lawrence, yet shows him in an honest light. Nor does he favor one political entity over another: British, French, German and Ottoman war-meisters all receive the criticism due them. Anderson's rendering is one of the best introductions to the politics of the Middle East that you're likely to find.
Garylovestoread, August 27, 2013 (view all comments by Garylovestoread)
It's telling that Lawrence's stomping grounds were what is now Syria. This book isn't just an eye-opening way to look at the Middle East, but also a page-turner filled with spies, battles and titanic personalities.
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by Kirkus Reviews,
"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."
by Sebastian Junger, New York Times bestselling author of War and The Perfect Storm,
“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.”
by Tom Reiss, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Black Count and The Orientalist,
"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."
by Doug Stanton, New York Times bestselling author of Horse Soldiers and In Harm's Way,
"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."
by Candice Millard, New York Times bestselling author of Destiny of the Republic and River of Doubt,
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.”
by Hampton Sides, New York Times bestselling author of Ghost Soldiers and Hellhound on His Trail,
“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.”
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