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T.E. Lawrence (British Library Historic Lives) Hardcover – Illustrated, 1 Oct 2003
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In his distinctive, clear prose military historian Malcolm Brown tells the almost absurdly dramatic life of 'Lawrence of Arabia' --BBC History Magazine
About the Author
A long-time expert on Lawrence, Malcolm Brown edited his Selected Letters, and is coauthor of A Touch of Genius: The Life of T.E. Lawrence. --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.
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Brown writes well; his style quickly draws in the reader. He uses excerpts from Lawrence's own letters and books to better describe Lawrence's experiences, while also quoting other contemporary sources to confirm the facts as presented by Lawrence. The book contains reproductions of portraits of key figures, maps, and photographs, many taken by Lawrence himself, all beautifully reproduced on quality paper. (This small volume is easy to carry around, and made to last.) The book starts with an overview of the important facts in Lawrence's family history, and ends with the resurgence of interest in T. E. Lawrence after the release of the 1962 film depicting Lawrence's accomplishments in aiding the Arab fighters during WWI.
Readers are left with a better understanding of the 20th century history of the Middle East,the origins of the recent "Arab Spring", and much of the current unrest in that region, as well as an insight into the genius and complexities of T. E. Lawrence. This book is a satisfying read on its own, or as an introduction to more in-depth biographies of Lawrence, or to Lawrence's own writings.
The bulk of the book deals with the Arab Revolt against Turkey, and Lawrence's role in it. The discussion is solid without being outstanding. Brent does a fine job of outlining the major issues in the conflict, describing the major figures in the conflict, and depicting the difficulties in any happy resolution. He treats Lawrence fairly, not minimizing his role, but not buying uncritically into the Lawrence legend. He neither tries to erect an idol nor destroy an icon. He also deals with Lawrence's life before WW I, and to a much lesser extent, his life after it. I wish the latter part of the book had been a bit fuller. I found the final years of Lawrence's life to be dealt with far too brusquely.
The illustrations make the book. There are photographs of nearly all the key figures, color reproductions of many of the illustrations from the original private edition of THE SEVEN PILLARS OF WISDOM (including a number of cartoonish depictions of Lawrence), and fascinating photographs of Lawrence from all stages of his life. Even if one did not wish to read the text, I could recommend this volume as a great visual companion volume to anyone reading THE SEVEN PILLARS OF WISDOM.