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Desert Queen: The Extraordinary Life of Gertrude Bell: Adventurer, Adviser to Kings, Ally of Lawrence of Arabia Paperback – July 12, 2005
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
This is a good book on most of the subject, though Wallach's understanding of the events surrounding Miss Bell is sometimes a bit weak. She also proves tone deaf with regards to British society and its niceties, portraying Bell's relationship with T.E. Lawrence ("of Arabia") as somewhat unlikely because he was from a "lower middle class" family while hers was of a much higher level. In reality, Lawrence was the illegitimate son of an impoverished Irish Baronet (certainly not lower middle class) while her family were newly wealthy (her grandfather and father mined coal and smelted iron and steel) and therefor likely to be looked down upon by those with titles. Despite these faux pas, the book is generally interesting, and conveys a sense of Bell's influence in the aftermath of World War I, when she was considered by some to be the most important woman, and one of the most important people, in the administration of the British Empire. I recommend this book.
The opening pages of "Desert Queen" seem to be written as a parody of early twentieth century pulp romantic fiction. As the reader struggles bravely on through the overuse of saccharine adjectives, the sickening realisation comes that this is not a parody - this is what Ms Wallach thinks appropriate for a biography of a woman of Gertrude Bell's character. The opening lines of the chapter on Baghdad cause the reader to recoil in horror. There is an earlier phrase about conversations bouncing around silk lined drawing rooms that leaves one gasping in disbelief.
The prose is quite bad enough to be going on with, but in addition there is more than a suspicion that historical accuracy has been dispensed with. The flowery descriptions of meetings and events leave the reader asking "how do we know that?" Was Gertrude Bell really meeting a local sheik with "eyes flashing like jewels" - and if from where do we get this fascinating insight? If from Gertrude Bell's own diary or letters, it would offer a fascinating glimpse into her self-perception and character. Ms Wallach does not want to burden the reader with sources or footnotes, and one is left with the distinct impression that this sort of comment is little more than an insight into Ms Wallach's own imagination.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
An amazing woman for her time traveling across the Middle East. A great read to set up the senecio of the why the Middle East to continue to be in turmoil. Read morePublished 13 days ago by wendy e nelson
An extraordinary biography about an extraordinary woman... why isn't Gertrude Bell a household name?
Complicated and inspiring... Read more
Perhaps, if someone in government had read this book, we'd never have gone into Iraq or Afghanistan.Published 1 month ago by Susan
This is such a fabulous book! SO interesting and moving and educational!Published 1 month ago by Jayni Chase
Gertrude Bell , whose insights and behind the scenes investigations as well as her appreciation for the Arab culture led to a remarkable life as an adopted daughter of Iraq make... Read morePublished 1 month ago by linda hallock