Synopses & Reviews
Michael Korda's Hero
is the story of an epic life on a grand scale: a revealing, in-depth, and gripping biography of the extraordinary, mysterious, and dynamic Englishman whose daring exploits and romantic profile—including his blond, sun-burnished good looks and flowing white robes—made him an object of intense fascination, still famous the world over as "Lawrence of Arabia."
An Oxford scholar and archaeologist, one of five illegitimate sons of a British aristocrat who ran away with his daughters' governess, Lawrence was sent to Cairo as a young intelligence officer in 1916. He vanished into the desert in 1917 only to emerge later as one of the greatest—and certainly most colorful—figures of World War One. Though a foreigner, he played a leading and courageous part in uniting the Arab tribes to defeat the Turks, and eventually capture Damascus, transforming himself into a world-famous hero, hailed as "the Uncrowned King of Arabia."
In illuminating Lawrence's achievements, Korda digs further than anyone before him to expose the flesh-and-blood man and his contradictory nature. Here was a born leader who was utterly fearless and seemingly impervious to pain, thirst, fatigue, and danger, yet who remained shy, sensitive, mod-est, and retiring; a hero who turned down every honor and decoration offered to him, and was racked by moral guilt and doubt; a scholar and an aesthete who was also a bold and ruthless warrior; a writer of genius—the author of Seven Pillars of Wisdom, one of the greatest books ever written about war—who was the virtual inventor of modern insurgency and guerrilla warfare; a man who at the same time sought and fled the limelight, and who found in friendships, with everyone from Winston Churchill to George Bernard and Charlotte Shaw, from Nancy Astor to Noël Coward, a substitute for sexual feelings that he rigorously—even brutally and systematically—repressed in himself.
As Korda shows in his brilliantly readable and formidably authoritative biography, Lawrence was not only a man of his times; he was a visionary whose accomplishments—farsighted diplomat and kingmaker, military strategist of genius, perhaps the first modern "media celebrity" (and one of the first victims of it), and an acclaimed writer—transcended his era.
Korda examines Lawrence's vision for the modern Middle East—plans that, had they been carried through, might have prevented the hatred and bloodshed that have become ubiquitous in the region. Ultimately, as this magisterial work demonstrates, Lawrence remains one of the most unique and fascinating figures of modern times, the arch-hero whose life is at once a triumph and a sacrifice and whose capacity to astonish still remains undimmed.
"This magisterial biography of British soldier and adventurer T.E. Lawrence celebrates a life spent subverting authority in the most glamorous--and bizarre--ways. S&S editor-in-chief emeritus Korda (Ike) gives a rousing, lucid account of Lawrence's leadership of the Arab revolt against the Ottoman Empire during WWI and his diplomatic championing of Arab nationalism. But it's Lawrence's artistic bent--his Seven Pillars of Wisdom is a classic of war literature--and his magnetic but tortured soul that take center stage. Korda's Lawrence blends fierce ambition, monkish austerity, self-abasing masochism (sparked, perhaps, by whippings at the hands of his mother and Turkish soldiers), a disdain for higher-ranking brass, and a penchant for dominating it. After the war he tried to restrain these tendencies by enlisting as a lowly private in the Royal Air Force when he was a celebrity and confidant of government ministers. Korda perhaps exaggerates the novelty and significance of Lawrence's military exploits and makes an unconvincing stab at framing him in Joseph Campbell inspired heroic archetypes. Still, Korda's vivid portrait of Lawrence and his warring impulses captures the brilliance and charisma of this fascinating figure. 16 pages of b&w photos, 26 b&w photos throughout. (Nov.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright PWyxz LLC)
The acclaimed author of the New York Times
returns with a definitive new biography of the legendary British scholar, adventurer, soldier, and hero who became a myth in his lifetimeT. E. Lawrence, "Lawrence of Arabia"
Michael Korda's Herois the story an epic life on a grand scale, a revealing, in-depth, and gripping biography of the extraordinary, mysterious, and dynamic Englishman whose daring exploits and romantic profileincluding his sun-burnished blonde looks and flowing white robesmade him an object of intense fascination, known the world over as "Lawrence of Arabia." Yet unlike other biographers, Korda does not seek to burnish or destroy the legend; rather he aims to demystify and reveal the real manT. E. Lawrenceas he truly was.
An Oxford scholar and archeologist, one of the five illegitimate sons of a British aristocrat who ran away with his daughters' governess, Lawrence was sent to Cairo as an intelligence officer in 1916, vanished into the desert in 1917, and re-emerged as the greatest and most colorful figure of World War I. A foreigner, he united and led the Arab tribes to defeat the Turks and eventually capture Damascus. Yet as he illuminates Lawrence's achievements, Korda digs further to expose the flesh-and-blood man and his contradictory nature: A born leader utterly fearless and seemingly impervious to pain, thirst, fatigue and danger who remained shy, modest, and retiring; a scholar and an aesthete who was also a bold and cold-blooded warrior. Yet as Korda shows, Lawrence was not only a man of his times, but a visionary whose achievementsas a farsighted diplomat, brilliant military strategist, the first media celebrity, and acclaimed writertranscended them.
Korda analyzes Lawrence's vision for the modern Middle East, plans that, if they had been carried through, might have prevented the hatred and bloodshed that have become ubiquitous to the region. Ultimately, as his magisterial work demonstrates, Lawrence remains the paradigm of the hero in modern times, the arch-heroic types whose life is at once a triumph and a sacrifice, and whose capacity to astonish remains undimmed.
From Michael Korda, author of the New York Times bestselling Eisenhower biography Ike and the captivating Battle of Britain book With Wings Like Eagles, comes the critically-acclaimed definitive biography of T. E. Lawrence—the legendary British soldier, strategist, scholar, and adventurer whose exploits as “Lawrence of Arabia” created a legacy of mythic proportions in his own lifetime. Many know T.E. Lawrence from David Leans Oscar-winning 1962 biopic—based, itself, upon Lawrences autobiographical Seven Pillars of Wisdom—but in the tradition of modern biographers like John Meacham, David McCullough, and Barbara Leaming, Michael Kordas penetrating new examination reveals new depth and character in the twentieth centurys quintessential English hero.
About the Author
New York Times bestselling author Michael Korda's books include Ike, Charmed Lives, Horse People, Ulysses S. Grant, and Journey to a Revolution. Educated at Le Rosey in Switzerland and at Magdalen College, Oxford, he served in the Royal Air Force. He lives with his wife, Margaret, in Dutchess County, New York.