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Lawrence in Arabia: War, Deceit, Imperial Folly and the Making of the Modern Middle East (Ala Notable Books for Adults) Hardcover – August 6, 2013
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Given the strategic importance of the Mid-East today, it is fascinating to read of the disproportionately large impact of some fairly low level functionaries in this "sideshow of a sideshow" (Lawrence's own words) in the run up to World War I. German academic and womanizer Curt Pruefer works to foment Arab jihad against British rule under the protection of Turkish rulers. Aaron Aaronsohn was a renowned agronomist and dedicated Zionist who gained the trust of the Ottoman governor by trying to relieve Syria of a plague of locusts. Twenty-seven year old American William Yale transitioned in a short eighteen months from roustabout duties in an Oklahoma oil field to Standard Oil's main agent charged with locating and securing oil in central Judea. Abdul-lah ibn Hussein is assigned by his father, Emir Hussein of Mecca, to sound out the British on supporting an Arab revolt in the Hejaz. Marching into history and legend was TE Lawrence who achieved the wholly unlikely transition from 21 year old archeologist in Syria in 1914 to head of a foreign Arab army in 1919, without a single day of military training.Read more ›
This volume gives an extensive, nearly blow by blow account of how Lawrence came to the Middle East, why he became attached to the war effort and, most importantly, what he did. Anderson also explores the lives and careers of others who influenced the war and to some extent the outcome, including the German academic Curt Prufer, the American oilman William Yale and the Romanian-Palestinian-Jewish agronomist Aaron Aaronsohn. What all of three of the men shared was that they were also at one point spies, and each of them was trying to play the conflict in the Ottoman Empire to achieve their own ends. To do that, all of them needed the mercurial Djemal Pasha, one of the leaders of the Young Turks, in one way or another.
Lawrence, however, is the star.Read more ›
A brief note about each. Lawrence began World War I on an archaeological expedition--and ended up as a celebrity. Prufer was a German who worked for German interests in the Middle East. Aaronsohn was a Zionist and an agronomist trying to enhance agriculture in Jewish areas. He also developed a spy network as World War I broke out. Yale was of the family after whom the college was named. He was, at the outset of WW I, an official for Standard Oil of New York (now Mobil) seeking access to lands that might be rich in oil. During the war, he became a representative of the United States' foreign policy apparatus.
The book provides considerable depth to each of these persons--but Lawrence is at the center. He is portrayed as somewhat enigmatic, someone who was almost a tragic character. While he fought for Arab independence, he knew of nefarious schemes by the English and French to be dominant forces in the Middle East after the war's end. He was a decent person who ended up tolerating acts of violence (such as watching as prisoners were killed after surrendering). The author suggests that, after a period of time at war, he became someone afflicted with Post traumatic stress disorder.
Aaronsohn, too, was an important figure. He tried to advance Zionist ideals and saw that working with Great Britain might be the best pathway. He developed an espionage network in the Middle East, with his sister as a key player.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Read this and you might know why the middle east is the way it is not really but it does help to figure all that out you need to start with the crusades but this is still a good... Read morePublished 1 day ago by CaptainGroovy
If you are concerned with the Middle East, Terrorism or want to really know why Muslims from the area have a good reason to dislike us, this is the book to understand why. Read morePublished 9 days ago by Geoff Isles
Well researched, compelling must read for those who want to understand the Middle EastPublished 11 days ago by Frank
very accurate and detailed ,perhaps too much to see rhe big picture.recommended for historians.Published 12 days ago by avner malkov
This book not only highlights Lawrence of Arabia, but it also follows a German spymaster, the only US intelligence agent in the Middle East during WW! Read morePublished 14 days ago by J. Zartman
I loved this book was a real treat to read and put the MID EAST into perspective of how the western world messed it up.Published 16 days ago by Herbert C. Stoops
Review of ‘Lawrence in Arabia’ by Scott Anderson.
As someone familiar with T.E. Lawrence and his works, I was quickly drawn into the little known associations he had with... Read more
A very informative book about the time, the place, and the people. It makes it pretty easy to see how seeds of resentment in the region were planted by western imperialism, i. Read morePublished 23 days ago by Bucky Badger