Desert Queen

The Extraordinary Life of Gertrude Bell: Adventurer, Adviser to Kings, Ally of Lawrence of Arabia
Narrated by: Jean Gilpin
Length: 20 hrs and 11 mins
4 out of 5 stars (214 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Turning her back on her privileged life in Victorian England, Gertrude Bell (1868-1926), fired by her innate curiosity, journeyed the world and became fascinated with all things Arab. Traveling the length and breadth of the Arab region, armed with a love for its language and its people, she not only produced several enormously popular books based on her experiences but became instrumental to the British foreign office.

When World War I erupted, and the British needed the loyalty of the Arab leaders, it was Gertrude Bell's work and connections that helped provide the brain for T. E. Lawrence's military brawn. After the war she participated in both the Paris and Cairo conferences, played a major role in creating the modern Middle East, and was generally considered the most powerful woman in the British Empire.

In this incident-packed biography, Janet Wallach reveals a woman whose achievements and independent spirit were especially remarkable for her times, and who brought the same passion and intensity to her explorations as she did to her rich romantic life. Too long eclipsed by Lawrence's fame, Gertrude Bell emerges in this first major biography as a woman whose accomplishments rank as crucial to world history (especially in light of the continuing geopolitical importance of the Middle East) and whose life was a grand adventure.

©1996 Janet Wallach (P)2012 Random House Audio

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

A woman ahead of time

This story of Gertrude Bell is fascinating because of her forthright determination, superior intellect, and political acumen. These qualities, combined with her love of the Middle East and British patriotism, made her a key player before and after World War I, a time when the country of Iraq was established. Far from a feminist, she nonetheless never suffered a fool gladly and always treated men, even her superiors, as equals. My only problem with the book is its length. It seemed to go on forever. But the description of her ways of truly befriending Arab men and the machinations of the British make for a compelling story.

1 person found this helpful

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A very interesting story about an exceptional lady

you probably never heard the story about this exceptional British lady. She was the unofficial queen mother of Iraq. A friend and counsel to Faisel and other turn of the century Arab sheikhs and tribal leaders. She was a Victorian era lady from a prestigious family yet she was more at home in a rough desert camp than in the tea parlor. She played a leading role in establishing Iraq as a constutional monarchy in the post Ottoman era. She made her own way and earned the respect of the Arabs and the British Foreign Srvice in an era when proper ladies served tea and knitted doillies.

1 person found this helpful

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Insightful

An amazing account of the early 20th Century political machinations that are the seedbed for the current Mid-east.

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Amazing Lady

I bought this book after watching the Netflix version of “Desert Queen”. The book delivers all that I was expecting. It is both well written and well narrated. I thoroughly enjoyed listening and learning about this amazing lady!

1 person found this helpful

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A dry recollection of history

I really wanted to love this book, but instead found that it never really captured my attention. I never formed an attachment to any of the characters. It was mildly interesting; a detailed account of a woman in an atypical role for her time.

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Great beginning, then gets boring

The story was much longer than I anticipated and became long-winded. Lots of intricate detail looses the attention easily and I found myself disinterested.

2 people found this helpful

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A very interesting book

What did you love best about Desert Queen?

Details of the Arab world in the early 20th century and the extraordinary personality of Gertrude Bell

What other book might you compare Desert Queen to and why?

One cannot compare apples and oranges. Each biography is therefore different because of the different personalties and situarions

What do you think the narrator could have done better?

The narrator did an excellent job , especially with all the arab names

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

That would have been impossible and there was so much information one had to pause to digest each bit

Any additional comments?

The author took too long to describe Bell's character and personalikty and I preferred the last third with all the facts and details

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Great read

This a biography of an amazing woman who helped shaped the face of the Middle East.

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Historical Perspective

Puts current events in a historical perspective. Best book I have read in years.

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  • s
  • 03-12-15

this is the best book in a long time AWESOME

If you could sum up Desert Queen in three words, what would they be?

AWESOME, AWESOME,AWESOME

What was one of the most memorable moments of Desert Queen?

her mind,brain,

Which character – as performed by Jean Gilpin – was your favorite?

Gertrude Bell

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

I have told my friends to read this book

Any additional comments?

I loved every word of this book