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

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9780771007682: Lawrence in Arabia: War, Deceit, Imperial Folly and the Making of the Modern Middle East

Now available as a Signal paperback, a thrilling and revelatory narrative of one of the most epic and consequential periods in 20th century history: the Arab Revolt in World War I, and the secret game to control the Middle East.
     The Arab Revolt against the Turks in World War I was, in the words of T.E. Lawrence, "a sideshow to a sideshow." As a result, the conflict was shaped to a remarkable degree by four men far removed from the corridors of power. Curt Pruefer was an effete academic attached to the German embassy in Cairo, whose clandestine role was to foment jihad against British rule. Aaron Aaronsohn was a renowned agronomist and committed Zionist who gained the trust of the Ottoman governor of Palestine. William Yale was the fallen scion of the American aristocracy, who traveled the Ottoman Empire on behalf of Standard Oil, dissembling to the Turks in order gain valuable oil concessions. At the center of it all was Colonel Thomas Edward Lawrence. In early 1914 he was an archaeologist digging ruins in Syria; by 1919 he was riding into legend at the head of an Arab army, as he fought a rearguard action against his own government and its imperial ambitions.
     Based on four years of intensive primary document research, Lawrence in Arabia definitively overturns received wisdom on how the modern Middle East was formed. Sweeping in its action, keen in its portraiture, acid in its condemnation of the destruction wrought by European colonial plots, this is a book that brilliantly captures the way in which the folly of the past creates the anguish of the present.

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Review:

An Amazon Best Book of the Month, August 2013: Scott Anderson’s Lawrence in Arabia is a marvel of a history book. The research is impeccable. The story is fascinating and unforgettable. And the characters are so compelling that they seem to have been plucked from a novel. During World War I, the course of the modern day Middle East was set by a handful of young, low-ranking actors who exerted oversized influence on the region. Anderson focuses our attention on four men: a minor German diplomat and spy, an American oilman descended from the Yale family, a Romanian-born agronomist, and T.E. Lawrence himself. As we witness the western nations attempting to carve up a region that they were never able to master, these adventurous and often duplicitous men come to full life--none more so than Lawrence. The amount of research it must have taken to write this book is astounding. But there is no filler here: this is the kind of detail that causes the narrative to pop, that makes it live and breathe, and it will keep you reading long into the night. --Chris Schluep

About the Author:

SCOTT ANDERSON is a veteran war correspondent who has reported from Lebanon, Israel, Egypt, Northern Ireland, Chechnya, Sudan, Bosnia, El Salvador and many other strife-torn countries. A contributing writer to the New York Times Magazine, his work has also appeared in Vanity Fair, Esquire, Harper's and Outside. He is the author of novels Moonlight Hotel and Triage and of non-fiction books The Man Who Tried to Save the World and The 4 O'Clock Murders, and co-author of War Zones and Inside The League with his brother Jon Lee Anderson.

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