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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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Top Customer Reviews
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 ›
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Books that start with maps are always my favorites. I cannot believe I have never heard of this amazing woman but I'm learning fast. Read morePublished 1 day ago by Joan Casey
Too LOOONG!! Too detailed, too dense. While Gertrude Bell was wise, determined, and politically astute, her biographer was not. Read morePublished 9 days ago by S. Hill
This book provides an excellent insight into the Middle East at the turn of the century. As a female, Gertrude Bell successfully entered the Arab world and earned the trust and... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Gary
An amazing marvellous read of a very daring Victorian adventurous women. So much history and drama....... So well documented in Janet Wallach's biography. Wendy HowlettPublished 2 months ago by wendy howlett
Very detailed account of a woman far ahead of her time learned much about
A great story about an extrodinary person. Gives amazing insight to currant mideast problems