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Setting the Desert on Fire: T. E. Lawrence and Britain's Secret War in Arabia, 1916-1918 Paperback – July 6, 2009
"Hitler's Forgotten Children" by Ingrid von Oelhafen
The Lebensborn program abducted as many as half a million children from across Europe. Through a process called Germanization, they were to become the next generation of the Aryan master race in the second phase of the Final Solution. Hitler's Forgotten Children is both a harrowing personal memoir and a devastating investigation into the awful crimes and monstrous scope of the Lebensborn program. Learn more | See related books
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At the heart of this book is T.E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia), and his extraordinarily daring, brave and probably short sighted actions. There seems to be tendency these days to dismiss the Legend of Lawrence (partly created by his own writings), but Mr. Barr's assessment of his involvements take an intelligently balanced point of view. His involvement in the story does provide a dynamic end engaging drive, but there are many other equally important characters in the narrative. The author gives particularly welcome insight into the significant parts that Sharif Husein and Sharif Feisel play in the encouragement of Arab revolt against the Turks.
As a whole this book takes us through the events in detail, carefully mapping out the positions of the Turks, British, French and Arabs along the way, whilst placing the whole vital but small-scale actions in the context of the mass slaughter going on in France at the time. However, what really brings this book alive, and completes its important accessibility are the contemporary insights of the author. A trip by Mr. Barr to the site of the Hijaz railway and the various towns in the area provides numerous connections to the present day. This creates a freshness and energy that helps the reader to visualize the place and time with clarity and texture.
Lawrence's story--Seven Pillars of Wisdom (abridged as Revolt in the Desert) helped keep the legend alive after WW I. But being a legend, creating a legend, and narrating legendary deeds (in a sometimes self-serving way) isn't always as enjoyable as you might think. Lawrence had to become Private Shaw to achieve anonimity. For a long time, the legend was the history: Seven Pillars of Wisom was the historical reference. Then there were books from the Arab point of view, often belittling many of Lawrence's claims. And, of course, we have Peter O'Toole on camelback. What is needed is a sorting-out.Read more ›
The book is well researched with copious notes and references and extensive bibliography. There are also photographs of many of the people and places mentioned in the text. The book examines the reason for Britain's involvement in the region, the tensions between the India Office and its support for the ibn Saud family and the Egypt Office and its support for the ibn Husain family and the tensions between the Arab tribes themselves and the lack of a clear aim for the revolt. It also examines in some detail how the British government wanted to distance itself from the Sykes-Picot accord as the war progressed and the French insistence that it be honoured.
The only criticism I have is that the author has a tendency to interpose his own observations of the sites of events in the middle of the text about those events without the benefit of separate paragraph. Apart from this the book is an excellent read and well worth its purchase for anyone interested in the region, the desert revolt or T. E. Lawrence.
The writing is, particularly in the beginning, slightly sloppy, cliche-ridden, and self-indulgent, but the narrative demonstrates careful and exhaustive research. However, the final page's attempt to make this story relevant to the current Middle East struggle, by claiming that Britain's failed pledges to the Arabs in 1918 are what created Osama bin Laden, is nonsense.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Explains many of today's problems in a historical setting. Stated a long time ago.Published 16 months ago by Karen180
Well written, well researched, and very interesting. It reads like a novel and has information worthy of a research paper. Read morePublished 20 months ago by Dianne Wood
This was a refreshing change from the usual 7 Pillars extracts. It provides a different aspect to Lawrence's operations in Arabia and well worth reading for both the specialist... Read morePublished on September 22, 2013 by Zerelives
After reading other books about and by T.E. Lawrence (including Seven Pillars of Wisdom), this book added important context to better understand the people and events that were... Read morePublished on April 11, 2013 by Amazon Customer
Since 9/11, increased American and British involvement in the Middle East has revived interest in World War I's Middle Eastern theaters. Read morePublished on July 15, 2012 by Hancock the Superb
I got this book for a reading project on Lawrence expecting a fast-paced, exciting read. I could not have been more disappointed. Reading the work was exactly that--work. Read morePublished on March 26, 2011 by Ken Willis
Usually I don't like to rate books with extreme stars (1 or 5) but considering I couldn't find the patience to finish this one, I decided to express this with a 1 star. Read morePublished on March 5, 2011 by Ricardo Ribeiro
This book has good potential, telling the tale of the Arab revolt against the Turks in WWI, but spends too much time describing, in much more than needed detail, the many day to... Read morePublished on February 9, 2011 by mastermindquiet
Well worth the read for several reasons: Gives the reader a better perspective of the extremely complex situation. Includes information from the German side I have not seen before. Read morePublished on January 1, 2011 by Richard Arant