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Young Lawrence: A Portrait of the Legend as a Young Man Hardcover – 9 Oct 2014
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I enjoyed Young Lawrence very much . . . while Lawrence is not a boy in Anthony Sattin's splendid book he clearly prefigures Lawrence of Arabia - a conscious striving towards becoming a hero, and a bold exploration not only of the Middle East, but of himself (Michael Korda, author of Hero: The Life and Legend of Lawrence of Arabia)
Sattin's unique portrait reveals an itinerant scholar adventurously immersing himself in the history, peoples, and landscapes of the Near East, the chrysalis of the brilliant figure soon to emerge: Lawrence of Arabia (Steve Kemper, author of A Labyrinth of Kingdoms)
Through meticulous research and crackling prose, Sattin charts the youthful passions and influences - and not a few family and personal secrets - that helped create the future Lawrence of Arabia, and done so in an account so well-written that is hard to put down. An absolutely indispensable read for anyone hoping to understand the evolution of one of the most beguiling and romantic figures of the modern age (Scott Anderson)
An intelligent and readable addition to the existing corpus of biographical works about Lawrence (Andrew Lycett, Literary Review)
An enjoyable book and a welcome addition to the literature on Lawrence (The Spectator)
In Young Lawrence, Anthony Sattin has struck gold . . . balancing a lively, novelistic approach with genuine biographical inquiry in a very readable book (Giles Foden, Conde Nast Traveller)
One of the best biographies to read in October (Independent)
Sattin has written a compelling account of a young man learning to live according to his dreams (Observer)
A valuable insight into a fascinating young man before he disappeared into legend (Scotsman)
Sattin somehow manages to balance a lively, novelistic approach with genuine biographical inquiry among hundreds if not thousands of sources . . . a serious but very readable book which would make a great Christmas present (Conde Nast Traveller)
Anthony Sattin, an Arabophile himself, is the perfect writer to bring us Lawrence's early life . . . a gripping, well researched book, adding an insightful portrait of young Lawrence before his more famous achievements (Compass Magazine)
A masterful account of the beginnings of a unique man (Kirkus Reviews)
This highly readable book never lacks for the big story but it also does not let that history lose the hero (New York Journal of Books)
It's fascinating to see how much of Lawrence's later, singular personality is evident in his early life (BBC History)
Sattin's own travel writing experience, lends this detailed biography of Lawrence's early years an immediacy, pace and sense of place that is as enjoyable as it is revelatory, as telling about Lawrence's personal relationship and motivations as it is about Middle Eastern history (Traveller)
A quirky but rigorous biographical study (The Economist)
[Anthony Sattin] spent more than twenty years travelling in the Middle East and his own passion for the place and people illuminates his writing. It's as if he knew Lawrence personally (Toronto Star)
Lawrence's youthful enthusiasms, aspirations and loves are brilliantly reconstructed in Sattin's compelling and sympathetic book (TLS)
Sattin makes a superb job of reconstructing that lost record of Lawrence's life before he became a war hero . . . Sattin is excellent on the troubled history of the region, and the 'what ifs' are enough to make your heart break (Independent)
Anthony Sattin knows a good story when he sees one. While most of Lawrence's biographers focus heavily on the war period, Sattin has grasped the importance of the years Lawrence spent in the Middle East beforehand, essential preparation for what followed. He has filled the ominous political background that Lawrence knew, but hardly mentioned in his letters home. As a travel writer enlarging on the writings of a forerunner, Sattin also often enriches Lawrence's account. I thoroughly enjoyed the result (Jeremy Wilson, authorised Lawrence biographer)
A biography of Lawrence of Arabia in the years that formed him.See all Product description
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Young Lawrence is a comparatively short account of Lawrence’s life from his school days to the beginning of WW1 when he was about 26. It may not sound very promising material, a portrait of an over-privileged young colonial Englishman, before his brief, and minor, role on the world stage. And the writing has few bravura narrative tricks. And yet the story is compelling; the end of the story, tragic for the Arab cause, stability in the middle east and for Lawrence personally, makes the tale all the more affecting.
Lawrence was raised in Oxford where he mother was somewhat controlling (as we would say now). We see Lawrence collecting pottery shards from Oxford building sites and taking them off to the Ashmolean Museum, evolving into a brilliant scholar with bags of physical bravery and leadership ability, trudging solitarily around the Holy Land (his Mauser pistol in his bag) to research crusader castles. Then in Syria Lawrence slowly develops his professionalism as an archaeologist and kinship with the Arab peoples before becoming a British spy.
There is of course much debate about Lawrence’s sexuality. Sattin seems happy to settle for the explanation that he was mostly celibate – something not as preposterous to his contemporaries as to us. Yet in a way the tale has a few of the elements of a love story: it is about this young Englishman’s awakening sense of kinship with the Arabs despised by the colonialists. As the dark clouds of war gather and the dreams of the young, idealist Lawrence turn to disenchantment, the narrative goes ever more poignant. Indeed Lawrence’s poem that Sattin concludes the book with is almost unbearably moving.
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