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 I was, in the words of T. E. Lawrence, "a sideshow of 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 Prüfer 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 a 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 rear guard action against his own government and its imperial ambitions.
Based on four years of intensive primary document research, Lawrence in Arabiadefinitively 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.
©2013 Scott Anderson (P)2013 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
I found this to be a well narrated and written book on the history of the making of the modern day Middle East. The book commences with the period just prior to World War I and takes the listener through World War I into the carving up of the former Ottoman Empire territories of Syria, Arabia, Palestine, Lebannon, Jordan and to a lesser extent Egypt (which was Ottoman territory but administered by the British prior to the War). The book covers the history through the eyes of four individuals- TE Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia), Curt Prufer (a German Diplomat), Aaron Aaronsohn (a Palestinian Jewish Scientist originally born in Europe) and WIlliam Yale (an American employed by Standard Oil of NY). Through their experiences (Lawrence being the most famous), one acquires a greater understanding of how France and Britain carved up the former Ottoman Empire between them, which eventually led to the circumstances the word now confronts in that area of the world. Historical events begin to unfold through their eyes and one is introduced to many of the people who were made famous by the war (Allenby, Kitchner, Faisal, Ibn Saud, Mark Sykes and David Lloyd George to name a few). Of the four characters, the portrait of Lawrence is the most remarkable (as one would expect) and the author does a great job contrasting Lawrence's real life from what is presented in Lawrence's book, The Seven Pillars of Wisdom and David Lean's 1962 movie Lawrence In Arabia. The narration was excellent and I must admit I learned more about the Middle East that I knew prior to reading the book. If you are interested in learning more about the making of the Modern Middle East and conflict in that part of the world today, this would be a great book to start with. As has been pointed out in several other reviews (Amazon as well as Audible), if you wish to learn even more about the making of the Modern Middle East, consider purhcasing a copy of David Framkin's book, "A Peace To End All Peace", which covers the more than this book does (unfortunately it is not available on Audible).
Heard about "Lawrence in Arabia" in an interview of Scott Anderson. Sounded interesting and what with my being a T.E. Lawrence fan…
T.E. Lawrence is fascinating, and the information Mr. Anderson presents is engrossing. The historical context is presented particularly well. But the story is destroyed by its uninspired and annoyingly amateurish writing. So much so it gets in the way of the story.
The narrator does a journeyman's job, but it gets outright silly when doing voice characterizations.
A long and somewhat tedious tale, but absolutely facinating and worth the time. Mainly not an action, but there are those moments. A word of caution for the faint of heart - this is, as far as I can tell, a good description of warfate.
Narrator is great. I don't think I would've been able to finish the book without the excellent reading, because the writing itself was a bit on the dull side.
One of the most enigmatic figures in modern history, T.E Lawrence is brought back to life in Anderson's work detailing how Lawrence came to be what he is today in the minds of anyone who has read of him: the British desert warrior with piercing blue eyes who played an integral role in World War I and the Arab Revolt, right down to his depressed, lonely death while suffering from one of the most clear forms of PTSD I've ever encountered.
This book seems (3 hours in) well-researched and no doubt very educational, but I just can't maintain interest. I even tried skipping ahead, searching for something that would be engaging, but could find nothing other than more grinding academia. I listen to a lot of nonfiction, and many writer or readers can make that nonfiction interesting, but that is not the case here.
It's like the Illiad. You know you should read it, you know it is important, but you run the very real risk of falling into a stupor of duty and running your vehicle off the road.
Sorry to have to skip it.
I recommend reading Seven Pillars of Wisdom first then this immediately after. Excellent and insightful. A tale of modern tragedy brought home in full.
I work in teh Arab world and this is the first time I got a history of our first dealigs in that part of the world. It was concisely told and the author brought in just the right amount of detail.
Waht an odd and unlikely character T E Lawrence was
HIs reading was just superb
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