T. E. Lawrence, a dashing war hero who helped bridge European and Arab cultures in the Middle East, is now best known as the subject of the Oscar-winning 1962 film Lawrence of Arabia. Lawrence James’ The Golden Warrior admirably sets out to separate the man from the myth.
Given access to previously unreleased materials, James uncovers a more uncomplicated life beyond the legend. While respectful of Lawrence’s accomplishments, James offers a complicated portrait of a man who was openly gay, whose military successes were overblown, and whose love for Arab culture led to distortions in his widely praised non-fiction writing.
Narrator Simon Vance gives a stately, energetic performance of this revisionist biography in a British accent.
What disappointed you about The Golden Warrior?
This is not so much about the mythical Lawrence as it is about the hundreds of characters in his life with whom he played his life's role as an artist, scholar, military genius, literary writer, adventurer, etc!!! There seems no end to opinions held by people who knew him and the book seems to cover them all—one after another with less than ideal organization.
The publisher makes clear the objectives of this book. Take them seriously and perhaps reconsider whether this is the book you want. The ending part of the book and the epilog moves too quickly but is excellent to the date of publication when relevance to modern Southwestern Asian history is briefly covered.
If you are interested in the personal Lawrence you will find the book relates conflicting and contradictory opinions throughout. Apparently Lawrence had few or no fixed principles or morals and often “put on a show” to serve his own ends. The exceptions were alcohol, tobacco, wasted time, and women. The result is a very complex book reflecting these inconsistencies. As such the book is far better as a thorough and detailed history than for casual listening.
What do you think your next listen will be?
I listen only to Biographies and Histories.
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