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Lawrence and the Arabs [Paperback]

Robert Graves
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

Dec 1991 1557783381 978-1557783387 New edition
Noted novelist and scholoar Robert Graves gives a true representation of the life of T.E. Lawrence who was an Arabian adventurer and a modest hero of World War I as a British liaison officer in the Arab campaign. Photographs.

Product details

  • Paperback: 454 pages
  • Publisher: Paragon House Publishers; New edition edition (Dec 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1557783381
  • ISBN-13: 978-1557783387
  • Product Dimensions: 20.3 x 13.7 x 3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,855,411 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Robert Graves was born in 1895 in Wimbledon, the son of Irish writer Perceval Graves and Amalia Von Ranke. He went from school to the First World War, where he became a captain in the Royal Welch Fusiliers. After this, apart from a year as Professor of English Literature at Cairo University in 1926, he earned his living by writing, mostly historical novels, including: I, Claudius; Claudius the God; Count Belisarius; Wife of Mr Milton; Sergeant Lamb of the Ninth; Proceed, Sergeant Lamb; The Golden Fleece; They Hanged My Saintly Billy; and The Isles of Unwisdom. He wrote his autobiography, Goodbye to All That, in 1929, and it was soon established as a modern classic. The Times Literary Supplement acclaimed it as 'one of the most candid self portraits of a poet, warts and all, ever painted', as well as being of exceptional value as a war document. Two of his most discussed non-fiction works are The White Goddess, which presents a new view of the poetic impulse, and The Nazarine Gospel Restored (with Joshua Podro), a re-examination of primitive Christianity. He also translated Apuleius, Lucan and Suetonius for the Penguin Classics, and compiled the first modern dictionary of Greek Mythology, The Greek Myths. His translation of The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám (with Omar Ali-Shah) is also published in Penguin. He was elected Professor of Poetry at Oxford in 1961 and made an Honorary Fellow of St John's College, Oxford, in 1971.

Robert Graves died on 7 December 1985 in Majorca, his home since 1929. On his death The Times wrote of him, 'He will be remembered for his achievements as a prose stylist, historical novelist and memorist, but above all as the great paradigm of the dedicated poet, "the greatest love poet in English since Donne".'

(Image courtesy of The William Graves Collection.)

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The First Biography on 'Lawrence of Arabia' 7 Oct 2010
I had tried many times to read 'Seven Pillars of Wisdom - a Triumph' by T E Lawrence and failed - I then found this biography by his close friend Robert Graves, which is really a precis of that book. I read this book twice then once more set out to tackle 'Seven Pillars' and this time, to my surprise, armed with the information in this book I succeeded in reading Lawrence's masterpiece.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Quick Bio of an enigmatic individual 6 Oct 2006
By David W. Nicholas - Published on
T.E. Lawrence, of Arabia, was by turns a very interesting and a very unusual man. He often was what used to be called queer, before it took on the meaning of homosexuality (though Lawrence *may* have been that, too), and expressed himself in the most strange ways. He was trained as an archaeologist before the First World War, and spent some time in what was then part of the Ottoman Empire (in what was to become Syria) and learned the language and customs of the locals. When the war started he joined the British army and spent two years working in the intelligence branch in Cairo; in 1916 he was sent to Arabia to evaluate the chances the British had of instigating a revolt among the locals, who would fight against the Turks (who were themselves fighting the British at the time). This evaluation mission evolved to the point that Lawrence was the British liaison to the local Arab prince who led the rebels, one of the Sharif of Mecca's sons, known as Feisal. Gradually Lawrence supplanted Feisal in terms of military leadership, and eventually the Arab revolt was pretty much all Lawrence, at least militarily...though Lawrence would never have acknowledged this, and probably would have argued with the statement had it been made in his presence.

The current book, by Robert Graves, has an interesting pedigree of its own. Graves is one of the premiere British literary figures of the 20th Century, writing everything from novels (I, Claudius) to compilations of mythology (The Greek Myths) to a war memoir (Goodbye to all That) with all of these books regarded as classics in their respective fields. Lawrence and the Arabs doesn't have the same reputation for excellence: Graves wrote it hastily in a few months in 1927, at the request of Lawrence's publisher. Lawrence had become famous as "Lawrence of Arabia" at the end of World War I via Lowell Thomas's book and a lecture tour Thomas did, where he spoke and showed silent films and slides from the desert. Much of what Thomas recounted of Lawrence's experiences was inaccurate: Lawrence decided to redress these untruths for his friends with a book he would write for them.

The result was a very long book called Seven Pillars of Wisdom. Upon completion, Lawrence published the book privately, selling about a hundred copies and giving away half that. The cost of printing the book was much more than the sale price he was charging, so the book was a commercial disaster. Having no money to pay the publisher to compensate him for the loss, Lawrence agreed to edit the text and sell a shorter version of the book, which was titled Revolt in the Desert. However, Lawrence insisted on there being, in the contract between him and the publisher, a proviso that once the debt from Seven Pillars had been paid off, he would be able to demand that the publisher cease printing Revolt, even if there was a further demand for it. Sure enough, when the debt was paid off, he so demanded, and the publisher reluctantly shut down their presses, though they could have sold many more copies of the book. They then asked Lawrence if they could have another writer write a book which summarized his experiences, and he agreed. Graves was a friend of Lawrence's; Lawrence was apparently pleased that Graves was the one chosen to write the book, though he was disappointed that Graves wasn't given a proper amount of time to write it. The publisher wanted to strike while the iron was hot: during this time copies of Seven Pillars sold for as much as 500 pounds, and were actually for *rent* in the London Times, by the week.

The resulting book isn't bad, by any stretch of the imagination. I guess Graves' reputation is such that anything other than an excellent book is considered mediocre. The writing is good, and since the author knows the subject of the book, he has some insight into his character that all subsequent writers lack. The book relies heavily on Seven Pillars for its account of the events in the war, and of course that book has been criticized (I think somewhat unfairly) as inaccurate. *All* memoirs are by their nature inexact: one person's point of view is only rarely completely accurate and objective, and that is by definition what a memoir is. The book also includes a concluding chapter which discusses his life after the war, including his service in the RAF.

I enjoyed this book very much, and would recommend it to the specialist for its value as a picture of Lawrence and what he was like to those around him.
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Divide and Rule 23 Dec 1999
By Mona James - Published on
Very Interesting book for those avid readers interested in the few years before and after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. The book shows how England decieved the Arabs by making false promises of independence once the Arabs completed thier revolt against the Ottomans. Arabs ended up with British and French mandates instead. Lawrence was himself betrayed by his own government. The book gives a lot of detail on the daily life of bedouins, so some might find it interesting. The author should have dealt more with Lawrence's view of Zionism and the Balfour declaration and British policies in the region.
5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous read! 23 Mar 2014
By Tulipano - Published on
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
While listening everyday to the news about the horrors in Syria as well as uprisings from Tunisia to Egypt,
I also listened to this unabridged helps to explain the situation in the Middle East
today.....certainly Lawrence was a fascinating and unique individual, the right person at the right
time. And I enjoyed reading another well-written book by Robert Graves, one of my favorite authors.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lawrfence & the Arabs 1928 R. Graves (& T.E. Lawrence) 9 Oct 2013
By larryG - Published on
Verified Purchase
Magnificent between Graves and T.E. Lawrence....So detailed. How did Lawrence and Faisal do it! Lowell Thomas certainly took poetic license with this story in his book and movie "Lawrence of Arabia." Not available at Amazon anymore. I got the last copy formerly in the Library collection of Reading U.K.Reprints noted Nov 1927>>>Feb 1935...My copy is a reissue in Florin books Feb 1934. Well drawn out of library. First edition? No editions listed. Just reprints & reissue. Would not part with it for a million!
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