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Lawrence in Arabia: War, Deceit, Imperial Folly, and the Making of the Modern Middle East | [Scott Anderson]

Lawrence in Arabia: War, Deceit, Imperial Folly, and the Making of the Modern Middle East

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.
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Publisher's Summary

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.

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  •  
    IRP Falmouth, ME United States 07-23-14
    IRP Falmouth, ME United States 07-23-14 Member Since 2007

    IRP

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Great Book on The Making of the Middle East"

    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).

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jay A. Cohen Santa Clara, CA USA 09-09-13
    Jay A. Cohen Santa Clara, CA USA 09-09-13 Member Since 2004

    Padre Cohen

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    "Really Wanted to Like This"

    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.

    3 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Matti Metsikkö 08-26-15 Member Since 2014
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    "Life, the universe and war"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Gabrielle 07-22-15
    Gabrielle 07-22-15
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    "Informative but a bit dry"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    "Lawrence brought back to life"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    William H. Moore LAUREL, MT, US 06-17-15
    William H. Moore LAUREL, MT, US 06-17-15 Member Since 2014
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    "Great read!"

    Great history lesson of events that have lead to the current state of affairs in the Middle East today.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    CAS 05-28-15
    CAS 05-28-15
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    "You have to really want it"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Still waiting 05-17-15 Member Since 2014
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    "Captivating from start to finish."

    I recommend reading Seven Pillars of Wisdom first then this immediately after. Excellent and insightful. A tale of modern tragedy brought home in full.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    jack 05-02-15
    jack 05-02-15 Member Since 2013
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    "Interesting and Prescient"
    What made the experience of listening to Lawrence in Arabia the most enjoyable?

    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.


    What did you like best about this story?

    Waht an odd and unlikely character T E Lawrence was


    What about Malcolm Hillgartner’s performance did you like?

    HIs reading was just superb


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    yes


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Chas I 05-01-15
    Chas I 05-01-15 Member Since 2015
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    "Mid East of WW 1"

    Book put together whole history of Mid East and gave good overall history of WW 1, Not just a a history of Lawrence, would recommend.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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