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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.

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.3 (528 )
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  •  
    Carrie Rutan 02-05-15 Member Since 2014
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    2
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    Story
    "Super listen"
    Where does Lawrence in Arabia rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    A great historical composition- the way the author pulled the story together by following the lives of a German, an American, T.E. Lawrence and a Jew in the period before and during World War 1 was perfect. It really helped to round out the history of that era and the story of the origin of the current Middle East.


    What did you like best about this story?

    The story of T.E. Lawrence and what he accomplished.


    Which character – as performed by Malcolm Hillgartner – was your favorite?

    Lawrence.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ken Mount Vernon, WA USA 02-03-15
    Ken Mount Vernon, WA USA 02-03-15 Member Since 2014

    Skeptic

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    19
    4
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    Performance
    Story
    "Forget the movie; this is the real deal!"
    Would you listen to Lawrence in Arabia again? Why?

    Yes! This is an epic tale that was hard for me to turn off. For me, it raised as many questions as it answered. And, when not listening, I found myself constantly searching the internet for more information about events a people detailed in the narrative.


    What did you like best about this story?

    The author did an exceptional job of putting it all together in a way that informed as much as it entertained.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    Lawrence's first encounter with William Yale.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

    Truth is stranger (and more entertaining) than fiction!


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Zephyr 01-07-15
    Zephyr 01-07-15 Member Since 2014
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    "An excellent place to start"

    While a informative biography in its own right this title also serves well as an introduction to modern Middle East politics.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Devilodg1969 01-07-15
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    2
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    "Excellent narration and perfect inflection..."

    I'd listen to another book read by Anderson... I'm reading and listening depending what is on my agenda... Good book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jon Crawfurd ST PETERSBURG, FL USA 12-22-14
    Jon Crawfurd ST PETERSBURG, FL USA 12-22-14 Member Since 2014
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    "I learned so much from this book!"

    A fascinating story of one of the most enigmatic personalities of the modern era. There's a wealth of detail about the man, but the bonus is a through recount of the history and geopolitics of time. Excellent!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Elaine Shaker Heights, OH, United States 08-08-14
    Elaine Shaker Heights, OH, United States 08-08-14 Member Since 2010
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    "Exellent introduction to the current Middle East c"
    Would you listen to Lawrence in Arabia again? Why?

    Yes, it is full of detail that I would like to listen to with a map
    of the Middle East in 1910 in front of me !


    What does Malcolm Hillgartner bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    His delivery and emphasis increased my understanding.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    The description of the folly of the english attack on the Dardenelles.


    Any additional comments?

    If you enjoy history told in an engaging manner, you will appreciate the detail
    in this book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    William R. Toddmancillas Chico, California United States 08-03-14
    William R. Toddmancillas Chico, California United States 08-03-14 Member Since 2014
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    "The Middle East in WW1"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Yes. Interesting and informative.


    What did you like best about this story?

    Lawrence's perseverance in trying to secure an independent Arabia following WW1.


    What about Malcolm Hillgartner’s performance did you like?

    Lively narration and clear enunciation. Accent also appropriate.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    Lawrence's rebuff of the king's decorations.


    Any additional comments?

    In its own way, at least as good--probably better--than the movie.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    IRP Falmouth, ME United States 07-23-14
    IRP Falmouth, ME United States 07-23-14 Member Since 2007

    IRP

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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).

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Joseph Somerset, Kentucky, United States 07-20-14
    Joseph Somerset, Kentucky, United States 07-20-14 Member Since 2011

    Tell us about yourself! Lifelong reader and passionate pursuer of knowledge. I love Audible because I never have to stop reading.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Well Worth Your Time"

    I chose to listen to this book to teach me more about Lawrence himself, and to understand better this part of World War I. I am sorry to say that I did not know just how much I didn't know about either. Although the book is excessively long, and probably too detailed, it does what what the author set out to do in my mind...first to paint Lawrence as an extremely bright, iconoclastic human; full of pure intent, but unable to change history as much as he would have liked; and to point out the incredible folly of the Great War, and the mess it left the Middle East in, a mess which is still problematic to this very day.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Carl Denver, CO, United States 05-11-14
    Carl Denver, CO, United States 05-11-14 Member Since 2014
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    "If you have ever wondered about the Middle East"

    Lawrence was an unlikely hero. This is an intriguing story that is hard to follow at times because it is back and forth between Cairo and various cities, towns, villages and middle of nowhere places. As the powers of England and France are trying to find a way to justify the carnage of WWI by claiming the new-found oil fields of the middle east, Lawrence becomes the unlikely advocate for the people of the region.
    Something to read and ponder about the problems we are facing today in that region.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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