Lawrence of Arabia: The Authorized Biography of T.E. Lawrence

J. M. Wilson, Author, Jeremy Wilson, Author Atheneum Books $35 (0p) ISBN 978-0-689-11934-7
Thomas Edward Lawrence's discovery that he was an illegitimate child filled him with deep bitterness and insecurity. As ``Lawrence of Arabia,'' he struggled to achieve a sense of identity and personal worth missing in his boyhood. His homosexual rape by Turkish captors in 1917 scarred him with guilt and shame, making the prospect of consummation in a marriage abhorrent, contends Wilson, official biographer as authorized by the Lawrence estate, who rebuts claims that his subject had homosexual affairs. According to this 1200-page tome, Lawrence was not the benevolent imperialist some critics have made him out to be, but an ardent supporter of Arab self-determination who felt morally degraded by the compromising role the British forced him to play in the Arab revolt against Turkish rule. This sense of debasement, argues Wison, engendered a masochistic disorder that later led Lawrence to enlist in the Royal Air Force. Through its comprehensive amassing of facts and documents, the book credibly replaces the romantic legend of Lawrence with the image of a tragic idealist whose political aims were frustrated by diplomacy. Photos. (May)
Reviewed on: 06/05/1990
Release date: 06/01/1990
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