Customer Reviews


28 Reviews
5 star:
 (26)
4 star:
 (2)
3 star:    (0)
2 star:    (0)
1 star:    (0)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 
‹ Previous | 1 2 3 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

38 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars T.E. Lawrence and the world he didn't make, 13 Sep 2013
By 
Leonard Fleisig "Len" (Virginia Beach, Virginia) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
Scott Anderson's "Lawrence in Arabia" is a compelling account of T.E. Lawrence (and to a lesser extent his German, American and Zionist counterparts) and the Middle-Eastern world they tried to make during the Great War. Meticulously researched and well-written Anderson takes the reader on a journey that covers much of the Ottoman Empire, the Arabian Peninsula, Egypt, and what is now Syria and Israel. Given the tumultuous history of the region since the Great War, and particularly since the Arab Spring and the complicated turmoil that is now rocking Syria, Anderson's book has contemporary resonances that buttress its examination of a bygone era.

Although the book focuses mostly on Lawrence, Anderson sets out the parallel stories of three other "adventurers" who influenced the events covered in the book. The German Curt Pruffer, was a lower level academic who saw the war (as many did) as an opportunity to rise above the glass ceiling faced by many who were not of the right social caste, took upon himself the role of a shadowy figure who sought to turn native opinion against the British. William Yale was an American executive of Standard Oil of New York. His goal was to use his influence to secure oil concessions from the crumbling Ottoman Empire and try to ensure that those concessions would be viable no matter who ended up controlling the region. There was also Aaron Aaronsohn who, in order to secure promises from the British about Jewish emigration and protection of Jewish emigrants into what is now Israel, created a spy ring that passed on information about Turkish troop movements to the British. And then there was Lawrence. Although only a bit above 5'1" (not the image one may have taken from the move), Lawrence bestrode Arabia like a colossus.

Anderson does an excellent job in creating a narrative arc that takes us from the beginning of the war in the Middle East through to its conclusion. He sets out in rich but clear prose the tribal, ethnic, and political fault lines that were quite complex, Byzantine if you will, and which few understood. Lawrence, a rather lowly officer ill-suited for the military seized the stage because he actually seemed to be one of the only Europeans present in the region prepared to actually get a handle on these complexities. Lawrence, as Anderson points out, was determined to use the war to secure self-determination for the various Arab tribes he encountered. He may in fact have been something of a pan-Arab nationalist decades before the concept actually began to take root in the region. Lawrence failed in this quest and Anderson does an exemplary job in exploring the forces at work that prevented Lawrence from using the conflict to create an Arab nation. However, this book is not a hagiographic treatment of Lawrence or anyone else featured in the book. Anderson does not spare Lawrence from the objective, if severe, eye he casts upon the British, Germans, French (and Hashemites for that matter) generally.

All in all I walked away from Lawrence in Arabia with a newfound understanding of the absolutely cynical, realpolitk may be another word for it, way in which the Empire builders of Europe and all the players created what may be called the foundation of the modern Middle East. When looking for first causes of today's conflicts and strife that continue to plague the Middle East, this period, and Anderson's book seems like an excellent place to start.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best objective biography on T E Lawrence to date, 16 May 2014
By 
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Before commenting on the excellence of this book, I would like to mention my credintials on the subject. Lawrence and I were both conceived i my family home. His father was tenant at the time. As a result I have always taken an interest in him and have read most of the work by and about him. My father served in Mesapotamia in the 1914-18 war (DSO.) and his uncle (General Lionel Dunsterville ) commanded the Dunster force there at that time.

The book is excellent and deserves the praise it has received. There are a few trivial inaccuracies on his early life but are not relevant. He has put Lawrence in the right perspective in that sphere and has made some acute observations about him, plus the rather suspect role of the Standard oil company. Considering what a broad sweep he has taken of that area I am surprised that there is virtually no mention of Harry St John Philby (British spy) and his close association with Ibn Saud. It was he that was mainly responsible for having him elevated from a tribal warrior of the Wahhabi's to being the most powerful influence in the area. He rather than Lawrence got the ear of Churchill in supporting him. It is interesting that Philby's son also was a spy, but for the Russians. This theatre of war has been somewhat overlooked because of the carnage that took place in France. The fact that this book has been written by an American .gives it added weight and should be put on top of the reading list for anyone studying the 1914 - 18 war. Read this and Max Hastings book on the European end of the same war.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars History for our time., 1 Oct 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Is there anyone not interested in "the Middle-East situation" in the 21st century, and understanding how it arose out of the post-colonial 20th century? A refreshing read from a current journalistic perspective. Sufficiently free from any debunking agenda, that even through the complex and conflicted motives and actions of the many parties involved a little heroism shines through. That coupled with Scott Anderson's witty delivery, despite the far-reaching seriousness of the subject matter, ensures it nevertheless reads like a good yarn, or rather three intertwined yarns. Stories anyone with an opinion on mid-east politics should know.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars Good book, full of new facts, but still leaves the disastrous intentional mythology wining over facts,., 19 Aug 2014
You've seen the film? an excellent piece of Hollywood, you've read the book (Seven Pillars by Lawrence) an excellent book where Lawrence unashamedly writes great prose "bigging up" his role and loosely based on events.
This is a well told story, giving us some real facts. Essential reading for anyone interested in the modern Middle East, but still a narrow focus. The book concentrates on Lawrence, tells us something about the now defunct Ottoman Powers, something about Britain and France, a little about Germany, and the US, but much less about the Arabs themselves. It assumes that those momentous events of the past were carved by a handful of individuals, whilst ignoring that all cultures change by slow evolution, rather than swift revolution.
An example, we assume that some philo-Semitic British politicians "gave" Palestine to the Jews. the author completely ignores recently released secret British Government papers, he mentions the Ottoman sudden appearance of a large military force on the Eastern Bank of the Suez Canal, which frightened the British witless (they thought the desert expanse on the East made it safe). British secret memos, show they wanted a colony on the Eastern side , but the British knew they could not afford it, so they cynically promised the Jews to develop a British colony, which came to the British free of charge and the development went beyond their wildest dreams to the very irritating point of making the British redundant,.
I guess that wasn't part of the story he was telling. We remain with an awful lot of propaganda and mythology about the events leading to today. A interesting part, but still far from the whole story.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A highly competent and thrilling account of Lawrence of Arabia, 27 May 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Scott Andersons book on T E Lawrence is one of the most exciting accounts of the man himself and the historical time in which he lived that I have ever read.
It includes excelent describtions of the key persons involved in the international political game
leading to the Midle East as we know it today. Scott Anderson is an excelent writer and the composition is thrilling, and I will not hesitate to strongly recommend this book :)
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars History Enhanced, 11 May 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I thought I had a reasonable understanding to the events which brought about the formation of the modern day near east but since reading this 5 star book it has opened up areas of further intrigue in its creation. Excellent!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning and illuminating page-turner, 10 May 2014
By 
I don't read history books, but I couldn't put this one down. I had recently re-watched the classic 'Lawrence Of Arabia' film and simply had to know more about the 'true' story, when I stumbled across this gem. 'Truth', of course, is a rather elusive concept, as any historian will tell you, but this is where Scott Anderson's skills shine: he does a marvellous historian's balancing act, pulling together diverse original (and recently de-classified) sources and making sense of conflicting versions of numerous spine-tingling episodes. He's a great writer, and weaves a jaw-dropping saga of intrigue, daring, heroism, espionage, bloody-mindedness, deceit, cruelty, war, peace, slaughter, pride, statesmanship, loyalty and even a bit of romance for good measure. The book is about a lot more than 'Lawrence', since it follows, to varying degrees, the interlocking strands of four key players in the evolving Middle Eastern campaign of The Great War. Read the other reviews and the press reviews: they give a good account, and you will not be disappointed. Best of all, this book is 100% relevant to the events unfolding today, and all the more astonishing for Anderson's key insights into the foundations of today's turmoil that were (at least partially) established 100 years ago.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A masterful account of Lawrence and his role in the making of the present day Middle east, 9 Nov 2013
By 
Brian Holland (Punta Gorda, Belize) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
A well written account that weaves various elements and people into a coherent and exciting story of the evolution of today's Middle East. I also learned many new things too that I did not know about Lawrence and his contemporaries.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars Four pillars of the Middle East., 26 July 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
There have been an ocean of ink spent on Lawrence and the Middle East, this book stands head and shoulders above them. It tells the inter linking stories of four players during the First World War. Lawrence always steals the show but the others are more than bit players and help shape the story and the history of that area.
I have not come across this author before, but I shall look for him in the future. It will only attract those interested in this period of time or the origins of the Middle East, which appear to be reverting to their origins.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully written account, 21 July 2014
By 
James A. Hicken (Northants England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This book is a worthy addition to the Lawrence legacy. It communicates the drama of the Arab Revolt and its mediaeval characteristics, and is also particularly insightful in relation to the creation of the State of Israel. Anderson is never afraid to question Lawrence's motives and his accounts of events, but there is an abiding appreciation of his genius. The stories of the linked characters in the events of the time are skilfully woven into the account, and the sheer quality of the writing is most welcome
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 2 3 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

Only search this product's reviews