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45 of 46 people found the following review helpful
on March 1, 2004
Format: Paperback
Thomas' book is worth reading because it's a nice antidote to the Lawrence revisionism that reached it's hysterical peak in the late eighties with David Fromkin. A Peace to End All Peace, which has been quoted on this website as some kind of definitve debunking of Lawrence, is now sixteen years old, an eternity in the world of Lawrence ebb and flow. I know of five biographies of Lawrence published since then including Jeremy Wilson's definitive work. The pendulum has been swinging back the other way for over a decade and the mainstream thought now among military historians is that inspite of one or two exaggerations, Lawrence's masterpiece, Seven Pillars of Wisdom, is an accurate account of one of the most remarkable military adventures of modern times. Lowell Thomas, who was an eye witness to some of Lawrence's exploits, also captures the essence of why Lawrence was important. If you had to read only one, of course you should read Seven Pillars. In the March 1, 2004 London Times there are actually two different articles addressing the vital relevance of Seven Pillars of Wisdom for those fighting Arab guerrillas in Iraq today. It seems the sales of this great work has exploded. In the Oxford Companion to Military History published in 2002, Lawrence is given credit for virtually inventing effective modern guerrilla warfare (see the entry "guerrilla warfare"). According to this distinguished reference book, every formidable guerrilla fighter from Mao, to Che, to the Israeli guerrillas of the forties, to the Arabs, to the Viet Namese etc., have used Lawrence's writings and experiences as a model for their efforts. Lawrence is back and very relevant, so Thomas' account should be read as an enthusiatic if flawed version of an extremely important development in military and middle eastern history. A word about Fromkin and some of the other out dated debunkers. Lawrence stepped on a lot of Arab, Zionist and British Establisment toes. It's as important to examine the motives of a revisionist as it is to scrutinize the intergrity of an enthusiast.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on February 13, 2004
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
David Lean included a journalist, Jackson Bentley, in his epic film "Lawrence of Arabia," an obvious take-off on the great journalist and author Lowell Thomas. In fact, Thomas was with Lawrence in Arabia and used the experience to make a name for himself and to create a legend. Sadly, it is also true, that T.E. Lawrence did not want to be a legend. As a biography of Lawrence or an introduction to the Middle East this volume has suffered a bit over the years..."it's all right," but there are better books on each subject. Still, this is something special, at least for this writer. This was the first book on the Middle East that I read and when combined with Lean's film which I saw about the same time in early 1963 I was hooked. I have studied, taught about and written about the Middle East ever since. Lowell Thomas and David Lean were inspirations for this modest scholar. I had the privilege to spend part of an early evening with Lowell Thomas in 1973, in of all places a press box awaiting a football game at the University of Utah. It was an unexpected and rare treat. Thomas seemed quite moved that he had encouraged the work of a graduate student. He was was quite a man. His greatest talent was to tell stories, and that he did, with some dramatic embellishments. This work on Lawrence is not unfactual, indeed it provides a good deal of fact. It is also quite sympathetic to Islam and the Arabs, as it should be. Lawrence seems larger than life. But in truth there are men like that. Both Lawrence and Thomas were such men and that can be seen in this wonderful book. It reads well, and it educates, even if some of it is the stuff of legend.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on January 10, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Lowell Thomas launched a first step toward a great career as an author, journalist, and eventually radio commentator with this book revealing the exploits of T.E. Lawrence in Arabia. In David Lean's great film "Lawrence of Arabia" a facsimile of Thomas was presented with the journalist played by Arthur Kennedy who came from New York to cover the great desert warrior's exploits.
In addition to providing readers with a firsthand look at the enigmatic, always colorful Lawrence, Thomas also gives us a good look at the geographical milieu of an ancient and fascinating land. He also provides excellent information on tribal leaders, complete with illuminating thumbnail sketches, such as his portrait of the fabled legend in his own time, Auda, who, when told that his false teeth had come from the country he hated, Turkey, smashed them with a rock and was compelled to take his meals through a straw for two weeks.
After having learned a great deal about Lawrence elsewhere, what I found truly unique about Thomas' biographical study was his analysis of the desert warrior's brilliant strategy of bringing disparate tribes together for a common goal. He stressed to tribal leaders, making proper pragmatically individualized approaches, how important it was to overcome Turkey's Ottoman Empire in Arabia. Lawrence emphasized that disunity had been their major stumbling block in failing to meet their objectives as Arabs. Lawrence's diplomatic skills resulted in at least a temporary unity, with even the headstrong inidivdualist, Auda, joining the cohesive effort to overthrow the Ottoman regime.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon June 1, 2007
Format: Hardcover
In "With Lawrence in Arabia," author Lowell Thomas recounts his experiences as perhaps one of the world's earliest "imbedded" journalists. Along with his photographer Henry .A. Chase, Thomas captures the exploits of T.E. Lawrence in typical 1920's journalistic fashion.
There is little doubt that Lawrence's eloquence and mastery of the English language in no small part rubbed off on the previously lurid muckraker journalist.
Compared with Lawrence's own book "Revolt in the Desert," Thomas clarifies much that Lawrence assumes the reader to know. I would suggest "With Lawrence..." be read as a prologue to "Revolt in the Desert," or, "Seven Pillars of Wisdom,"if you are a more ambitious reader.
Thomas's book will certainly be helpful with the background tribal, historical and geographical information otherwise lacking in Lawrence's works.
In the book's closing chapters, Thomas's thoughts are as ominous as they are prophetic to read them today. To understand that they were written in 1923 belies our ignorance of the past and our reluctance to learn from it:

"We of the West are prone to underestimate the importance of Mohammedanism: one day there may be a rude awakening, for it is the creed of one fifth of the world and is an active and proselytizing creed making converts in London as well as equatorial Africa.
Like the waves of unrest and religious fervor and splendid hope that passed through Christendom at the time of the crusades, so now, from Sudan to Sumatra, there are ominous signs of another and darker movement."

If Thomas's own words reveal such a concern for the future of Islam, perhaps there is no less apprehension suggested his quotes from Lawrence himself:

"It would show a lack of humour if we reproved them (the Arabs) for a battle near Damascus... while we were fighting battles near Bagdad, and trying to render the Mesopotamians incapable of self-government, by smashing every head that raised itself among them... We realise the burden the army in Mesopotamia is to the Imperial Exchequer, but we do not see as clearly the burden it is to Mesopotamia."
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on December 20, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Lowell Thomas was an American reporter who traveled with Lawrence during the war. Besides Lawrence's Revolt in the Desert and Seven Pillars of Wisdom this is the only 1st person account of Lawrence. It is by far the best read of the three. Anyone with any interest in Lawrence or WWI should read this book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on December 13, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
Simply outstanding! For anyone who is serious about understanding the tribal mentalities in the middle east this is an imprative. Even more imperative is, after reading this, is to read TE Lawrence SEVEN PILLARS OF WISDOM. I would be surprised if both these are not class work for the War College and the military academys. If not, they should be.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on January 11, 2006
Format: Paperback
Most reviewers, even the detractors, reckon this book as extremely well-written. Well, it isn't. It's written like a 1930s American newsreel - flash, upbeat, parochial, excited. Nevertheless, in parts it's great, and overall it's well worth reading for the information it provides and the insight it gives into the character of T. E. Lawrence.

There can be no question that Lawrence was a great figure in Middle Eastern history, together with his flaws, his depth, his many mistakes and his fantastic successes. The vast majority of the time it's easy enough to tell when Lowell Thomas is writing for effect and when he is simply relating facts. He does not try to hide his excitement for the campaigns or his fondness for Lawrence.

It's well worth reading this book for yourself and making up your own mind. As an eye-witness account of an important part of Middle Eastern history, it can scarcely be beaten. Virtually everything that happened in the Middle East during the time of Lawrence has had a direct bearing on the events of today.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on February 20, 2008
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
Lawrence has been severely criticized for his obvious character faults and bizarre behavior both during and after the war. The critics have used these assessments to minimize the value of his activities, which in my opinion only tends to obscure what Lawrence personally experienced and what Lowell Thomas described - namely that the people of the desert were first of all faithful to the clan, next to the tribe, and then only incidently to any larger arab grouping. Despite a common enemy, there was little common purpose. Lawrence's greatest challenges were securing cooperation between the various tribal groups. Much of this thinking still pervades the Middle East. The Iraq situation is just a modern version of Arabia during WW1. Of equal interest and importance are the descriptions of Lawrence's activities in the Middle East prior to the war. He successfully conducted archaeologic explorations (digs) using local resident labor. And he demonstated how he involved them emotionally in achieving group success in that effot. Timeless and priceless example. A book for the ages. Should be required reading in Washington DC.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on January 9, 2014
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
Hundreds, too many, scan errors: my favorite "comer" for corner; also "modem rifles" and "modem war". Weird punctuation and spacing. Two cents worth of effort for a $2 price.

Funny, but correct: a "Rolls -Royce saloon" in Arabia.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
Rife with inaccuracies, but valuable as an historical flavor of the times and evidence of the enthusiastic celebrity-making of Thomas.
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