Lawrence in Arabia: War, Deceit, Imperial Folly and the Making of the Modern Middle East

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Lawrence in Arabia: War, Deceit, Imperial Folly and the Making of the Modern Middle East

Lawrence in Arabia: War, Deceit, Imperial Folly and the Making of the Modern Middle East

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The secret Sykes-Picot Agreement between France and Britain contradicted the promises of independence that he had made to the Arabs and frustrated his work.

He hated bureaucratic work, writing on 21 May 1921 to Robert Graves: "I wish I hadn't gone out there: the Arabs are like a page I have turned over; and sequels are rotten things. At the Arab Bureau, Lawrence supervised the preparation of maps, [54] produced a daily bulletin for the British generals operating in the theatre, [55] and interviewed prisoners. The expedition departed from Wejh on 9 May, [109] and Aqaba fell to the Arab forces on 6 July, after a surprise overland attack which took the Turkish defences from behind. His writing is characterized by its vivid descriptions of the desert landscape and its inhabitants, as well as its insights into the complexities of Arab culture and politics.But 1915 was also the year of the Armenian genocide; Aaronsohn feared that the Jewish colonists of Palestine would be next. A towering man given to portliness … brilliant and arrogant, passionate and combative", in 1915 this celebrated agronomist was trusted enough by the Ottomans to be placed in charge of a campaign to suppress a plague of locusts. Lawrence lived in a period of strong official opposition to homosexuality, but his writing on the subject was tolerant. He met Arab nationalists, counselling them to avoid revolt until the arrival of Faisal's forces, and he attacked a bridge to create the impression of guerrilla activity.

So why does his finely grained character continue to impress on our vision of the Middle East – and on Anderson's intelligent and original, if somewhat unevenly written, group portrait? The Ottomans in Turkey, the French, the Russians but above all the British were being as devious as they were violent (and often incompetent) in the fighting. The historiography of the war in the Middle East has been analysed through grand strategic, political and imperial lenses with a heavy focus on the conflict’s nineteenth-century character.In 1918, Lowell Thomas went to Jerusalem where he met Lawrence, "whose enigmatic figure in Arab uniform fired his imagination", in the words of author Rex Hall. Tying the Arab Revolt into this balancing act of so many contradictory British war aims in the Middle East is developed well in the book; here one can see the usefulness of putting Lawrence centre stage. First procurable US edition, limited issue, number 301 of 750 copies attractively bound in quarter pigskin. Some have speculated that Lawrence was assassinated yet it is generally accepted that his death was an accident due to a lack of evidence supporting this narrative.

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