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

Scott Anderson. Doubleday, $28.95 (592p) ISBN 978-0-385-53292-1
Justifying this addition to the mountain of works on T.E. Lawrence, fabled war correspondent Anderson (The Man Who Tried to Save the World) reasons that “Lawrence was both eyewitness to and participant in some of the most pivotal events leading to the creation of the modern Middle East... a corner of the earth where even the simplest assertion is dissected and parsed and argued over.” Too many biographers of Lawrence, he suggests, have let political biases and academic hobbyhorses overshadow their work. Anderson’s own experience in some of the world’s most chaotic places allows him to speak with authority in his portrayal, at once critical and appreciative, of Lawrence and other larger-than-life individuals who left their mark on the region. A flair for the dramatic makes even the dullest historical moments redolent of palace intrigue and imperialist hubris. Readers seeking to understand why turmoil has been so omnipresent in the Middle East will benefit from Anderson’s easy prose, which makes liberal use of primary sources and research, but reads like a political thriller. The central message seems as relevant today as it was a century ago: revolutions whose success is dependent on the patronage of external powers come at a high price—a “loss of autonomy” and an influx of foreign carpetbaggers who show little concern for the inhabitants of the newly “free” land. Agent: Sloan Harris, ICM. (Aug. 6)
Reviewed on: 05/20/2013
Release date: 08/06/2013
Genre: Nonfiction
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