I selected this book to read as part of the research I was doing on my novel I had seen the film Lawrence of Arabia in the past and now wanted to mine the book for details I needed to know about life among the Bedouin in 1920 I had planned to only read the parts I needed for my novel, but ended up devouring the whole thing Then I read it again, parsing out what had now become an intense interest in TE's psychology I then retreated to a biography and selected John Mack's A Prince of our Disorder, not only because it won a Pulitzer, but because it was a psychological biography rather than thematerialistic ones that focused on TE's war efforts (I do not care how Lawrence learned to blow up a train) As Lawrence's personality was dissected in that fabulous biography, I could not help but draw on a curious aspect of humanness There is a correlation between being deeply psychologically disturbed and fantastic achievements in some of history's greatest artists Van Gogh, is the first who comes to mind, but Beethoven and Mozart and Wagner all had personality problems (I am being polite here), Degas, Cezanne, Gauguin: not particularly wellbalanced There are any number of examples, too many to discuss here The opposite is true as well, as other men who are infamous rather than famous, and their achievements might be better categorized as harmful to humanity rather than having enriched it (these men tend to enter politics rather than the arts) But the point I am making is that in order to step out of the ordinary, the mold has to be broken, and cracking that mold often corresponds to a cracking the psyche Reading Seven Pillars again after reading Mack's biography underlined the most poignant parts of the book, and watching the film again after being immersed in the two books brought out the fierce intent of the filmmakers to illustrate in sound and color what Lawrence meant to other people and to history, but not what that medium could convey to us what was churning in Lawrence's soul They tried, they tried, and Peter O'Toole does a fantastic job looking like a tormented soul, his eyes at times full of humor and then pathos and then fear But the screenplay cannot put the words in our ears that we need to hear in order to understand Lawrence Only his own words can do that, and they are heartbreaking. I've read this book twice now, and seen the film countless times When a colleague once asked me which was my favourite war film, I didn't need to think about it for long.But as is usually the case, the book blows the film away For detail of the inside story of the war in the East, description of life with the Arabs in the desert, and sheer adventure, it's unparalleled It is also directly relevant to our day, for as TE Lawrence wrote:We could see that a new factor was needed in the East […] No encouragement was given us by history to think that these qualities could be supplied readymade from Europe The efforts of the European Powers to keep a footing in the Asiatic Levant had been uniformly disastrous […] Our successor and solution must be local.A shame Tony Blair with his privileged education didn't read that passage And as for Syria:“the Syrians had their de facto government, which endured for two years, without foreign advice, in an occupied country wasted by war, and against the will of important elements among the Allies”If people like TE Lawrence who know what they are talking about, were listened to, the Middle East wouldn't be in the mess it is now But it's always the same in politics: the decisionmakers are by definition those who are closest to the fount of all power, and furthest away from the real world. I was deeply disappointed by this book, but it's possible that was my fault.Lawrence somehow manages to be selfdeprecating and completely arrogant at the same time, in a way that's startlingly oblivious (At one point, he compares his book to Gibbon's Rise and Fall Umm, no.) I had hoped that by the end of the book, I would understand both the history of the Arab Revolt during World War I and Lawrence the man better I'm not sure I actually understand either one better than when I started.One of the most frustrating problems that quickly emerges is that Lawrence completely assumes that the reader is intimately familiar with all details of the chronology of the war, all of the history of the region, all of the people involved We're dropped right into the middle and never given the slightest orientation If events happen off page, we're lucky to ever hear about them Allenby is tossed off as if we are as familiar with him as we are with Churchillwe get no real description of him, we never even get a first name, and I don't think there's even a title attached at first (He's the British general in charge of the entire theater, by the way The only reason I know this is because I saw the movie God knows, I wouldn't have figured it out until halfway through the book, otherwise.) Allenby's capture of Jerusalem, a major turning point in the war? Mentioned in the second half of a sentance It's like this for everything One can never tell how important a given event might be Major battles Lawrence is in may get two pages Major battles Lawrence was not in are lucky to be a passing reference The capture of major intelligence is we found letters of interest (whose contents are never disclosed), the thwarting of a wouldbe spy is a nondescript paraphrased conversation But a description of a completely random and meaningless feast? Four pages, in great detail A very lame joke Lawrence once made? We get every detail, from the setup, doubling back into the backstory of why it's funny, and then a detailed description of everyone's reaction We find out that they've run out of supplies two chapters ago when there's finally an offhand reference to the fact they've had no food for days There's no way to actually understand the course of the war or any of the decisions made There's no sense of tension, because it's never possible to evaluate stakes It's just a neverending round of meeting Arabs who will never be mentioned again and blowing up train tracks without a description of how it affects anything The events of the book are as featureless as the desert itself.As for Lawrence himself, we hear a great deal of meaningless detail but very little of importance I know all about his costume, but not why he chose that particular costume I know about how one time, he lay down and when he woke up, there were lice that crawled out of his hair But I have no idea of why he was in Arabia in the first place I know about his very mixed feelings about the English using the Arabs, but I don't know how he got himself into the situation There is one shockingly intimate chapter in which he is captured in Deraa, tortured, possibly raped (or just sexually assaulted, it's not entirely clear) At the end, he declares that the citadel of his integrity has been breached, but it's never really mentioned again The combination of English reserve and the overall oblique style makes it difficult to see how such a lifeshattering event affected him We know all about external details He gives tiny hints of interal torment here and there But we never get enough information to really understand how his mind works, despite spending almost 700 pages in it.What we do know is that he likes flowery language The writing is lyrical unto purple, with bits of elaborate racist theories thrown in for spice It's beautiful, all right, but nearly opaque Makes great cover, added to all that English reserve, so that you have to read paragraphs three times to actually figure out what the heck just happened.Not helping are some typographical choices that I don't know who to blame for There's a certain inability to stick to spellings Feisal is spelled Faysul at random sometimes, for example; Jidda is Jeddah, and so on When there's a new person introduced every other page (and usually dropped two pages later), it makes it difficult to keep track Also, while the chapters are not named but just numbered, the top of every page has its own name These names, however, are vague enough as to be no help at all in understanding what's going on or in finding a certain section Someone spent a great deal of time labelling every single page with things like Hunger and Precaution, followed by Messengers, or Safely Away/Over the Plain/Hot Winds/Until Sunset (Until Sunset is a paragraph and a half Seriously This was worth taking the time to give its own name?)The story is a fascinating one It's a shame I didn't get to read it. Thomas Edward Lawrence's meticulously written account of his fascinating life during World War I is one of the literary treasures of the Twentieth Century Lawrence had graduated with honors from Oxford University in 1910 He had a fascination with medieval history, and had traveled as a student to study Crusader castles in France and Syria the summer before his graduation He worked professionally as an archaeologist in the Middle East until 1914, with extensive travel through the Ottoman Empire's possessions, including the current Jordan, Syria and Iraq During early 1914, he was part of a geographical survey of the Negev Desert, which served as a cover for the British government in its attempts to gather intelligence on the terrain of this Ottomancontrolled area which would become important to military operations in the event of a war When that war came, Lawrence was commissioned as an intelligence officer assigned to British army headquarters in Cairo He would later function as the liaison officer working with the Arab irregulars and guerrillas fighting an internal insurgency against the Ottomans The British plan was to funnel large amounts of money and munitions to the Arabs, letting them distract and weaken the key German ally, Turkey Lawrence became a key advisor of Emir Faisal and a trusted subordinate of the British commander in the area, General Edmund Allenby His years of fighting on behalf of the Arabs, wearing the desert robes while traveling everywhere on camelback, helped him identify intensely with the cause of Arab independence He was involved with the guerilla operations against the Hejaz railway and, in 1917, was instrumental in the successful surprise attack against the strategic town of Aqaba The culmination of his military exploits in the desert was his participation in the conquering of Damascus late in 1918, and the consequent installation of a provisional Arab government under Faisal.After the shooting stopped, Lawrence would become disillusioned over the knowledge that the cause of Arab independence had been undermined by the secret SykesPicot Agreement negotiated during the war to divide the Middle East under FrenchBritish influence.Many of Lawrence's exploits are chronicled in Seven Pillars of Wisdom However, the text available to most readers today is from revised editions of the original Lawrence wrote a manuscript from his notes and his memory in 1919, reported to contain 250,000 words The title is from the Book of Proverbs, and is also the name bestowed by Lawrence on a rock formation at Wadi Run (now located in Jordan) during the war This first manuscript was the one that was lost in a railway car and never recovered A second, longer, text was reconstructed from Lawrence's memory in 1920 During 1921, a third edition was published; this is referred to as the Oxford edition, and was printed in just eight copies Later, in the mid1920's, a subscribers' edition with a printing of 200 copies was released Lawrence lost money on all of these editions Finally, an abridged version was authorized by Lawrence to be printed forgeneral circulation; this edition was titled Revolt in the Desert Lawrence assigned the profits from this book, which became a best seller, and from his other writings to trusts which generously funded the RAF Benevolent Fund His surviving brother A.W Lawrence later (in the 1930's) sold the U.S copyright to Seven Pillars of Wisdom to Doubleday Doran, of which this reviewed edition derives As you can see, Lawrence's need for frugality and privacy trumped trying to get rich from his war adventures, even though he did feel strongly that the events occurring in Arabia at that time needed to be recorded There was little chance for Lawrence to live in postwar obscurity, however, since media exposure from Lowell Thomas made him famous Thomas was a war correspondent who traveled with Lawrence and Faisal He took many photographs and even had a cameraman to film some of the action surrounding the battles with the Turks After the war, Thomas became rich as the narrator of a slide show of the Arab revolt which toured the world; it was especially well received in London He was shrewd enough to exploit Lawrence's dashing persona, going so far as to have additional photographs taken of Lawrence in his robes in London after the war in order to add to the visual appeal of the picture show, which was titled: With Allenby in Palestine and Lawrence in Arabia.All of this unwanted attention, disillusionment, warandliterary fatigue caused Lawrence to literally drop out of public view By 1922, when he was still in the process of directing the printing of various editions of his memoir, he joined the Royal Air Force as an enlisted man This former officer (I think he rose to the rank of Lt Col in the war) served humbly, if bizzarly, under the names of John Ross and T.F Shaw; he also served for a time in the Royal Tank Corps, until the age of 35 He died at the age of 46 in a motorcycle accident I had wanted to read Seven Pillars for some time, having read a biography of Lawrence when I was in high school That book, by an author I don't recall, gave an interesting account of Lawrence's life, but referred to the literary beauty and authenticity inherent in Lawrence's own words It would be interesting to be able to read through one of the exquisitely bound and illustrated early, rare editions of Seven Pillars , regardless of how many hundreds of thousands of words are contained therein, but a later, widely available abridged edition will have to suffice and, in the end, is very satisfying. I’m going to first off state something very confusing I really loved this book I love T.E Lawrence, I think he’s an enigmatic, mysterious and overall heroic man however, I didn't actually finish the book.If you aren’t quite sure of who this man is, simply think back to that amazing, award winning movie, “Lawrence of Arabia.” Lawrence’s main initiative in this book is to act as an intermediate between the rebel forces of Arabia and the English, who were organizing against the Ottoman Turk’s More then anything, the book is about the unification of Saudi Arabia and the many conflicts which helped to achieve that end.Although this is generally thought of as an Autobiography, especially since it was written by T.E Lawrence himself, I hesitate in naming it as such There is a lot of controversy that surrounds Lawrence, and, while the word of the man himself should be the most accurate, there are general rumblings about whether many events have been embellished So, this is, as Charles Hill has stated, “”a novel traveling under the cover of autobiography.” (Spoiler) The books extends from Lawrence’s first rumblings of revolt against the Turk’s It’s very clear by his writing that Lawrence has absolutely no respect for the Turk’s, whom he views as culturally absent and reliant upon numbers, rather then strategy and wit He frequently travels across the country, eventually uniting enough tribes to push the Turk’s from nearly every major post by sabotaging the huge Hejaz Railway that extends from the north to the south The main drive of the book is to capture Damascus for the Arabs, which can only be achieved by the outstanding military ambition of Emir Faisal Faisal is one of the major individuals of the war, whom acted as a united front against the Turk’s and a close fried to Lawrence himself Unlike in the movie, there is almost no mention of Ali, who seems to be taken from Faisal’s character and modified to suit the audience’s favor There is definitely a sense of hero worship from Lawrence to Faisal, which seems to felt mutually The level of respect that the English have for the authority figures of the tribes is interesting and increases the general romance of the book.And here’s where I explain why exactly why I gave this a 3 out of 5 Even though I loved this book and all of the individuals within it, I found it so incredibly difficult to read As an Australian girl, who is culturally naive and has only visited America and Canada, it was almost incomprehensible to understand exactly what was happening There is just so many new words, technical terms and long names to remember that I only understood what I was reading by about 150 pages It’s difficult to admit this but I haven’t actually finished it because it is probably one of the most difficult books I have ever read And I’ve read a lot of books Lawrence does have a very poetic style of writing and I think that without that, I wouldn’t have been able to make it past 50 pages For example:For years we lived anyhow with one another in the naked desert, under the indifferent heaven By day the hot sun fermented us; and we were dizzied by the beating wind At night we were stained by dew, and shamed into pettiness by the innumerable silences of stars We were a selfcentred army without parade or gesture, devoted to freedom, the second of man’s creeds, a purpose so ravenous that it devoured all our strength, a hope so transcendent that our earlier ambitions faded in its glare.As you can see by the quote above, Lawrence is immensely talented in his writing and there are scenes that literally make the heart ache with its beauty However, those moments are often separated by lengthy explanations of who is who, where they are and what strategies they have planned It is also interesting to note that Lawrence himself is a very unusual and complex person, who is described as being sexually ambiguous, effeminate and strategizing He isn’t a typical hero, in any sense.So, for the romance of the book, of Lawrence and of the landscape, I give this book a 3 However, I can not award this book points for readability, consistency of ideas and the quality of the every chapter I do know that one day I will come back to this book, it’s hard not to when you fall in love with Lawrence, but I don’t think, as a young girl, that I can fully appreciate this book at this stage in my life However, if you understand what it is to follow complex storyline’s and are interested in the man itself, please do read this book After all, this is a personal review, based on my own experiences with it. Since battles and warfare are not really my thing, I am amazed how much I enjoyed reading Seven Pillars of Wisdom In this beautifully written memoir, Lawrence presents us with an honest account of his role in the Arab revolt, his hopes on making Damascus the capital of the Arabs, but also his doubts about the whole endeavor I love how he blended in with the Arabs, learning their language and their customs, riding the camels in the Arab way, becoming one of them That they loved him and accepted him as one of their own becomes clear in the final chapters leading up to the taking of Damascus, when the Arabs saw him negotiating with the English to get supplies and ammunition to prepare for the capture of the city:Never could I forget the radiant face of Nuri Said, after a joint conference, encountering a group of Arab officers with the cheerful words, 'Never mind, you fellows; he talks to the English just as he does to us!'The history is fascinating, and so are his descriptions of desert life, the sand storms and mirages, the annoying insects, the camels, and the oases I found it beautifully written, well worth reading. 'Seven Pillars of Wisdom' by Thomas Edward Lawrence is a memoir of observations about World War I by Lawrence who worked in Syria and Palestine Arabia from 1914 to 1918.Lawrence is considered a hero by most, and in my opinion, deservedly so Some critics think he inflated his part in some events; others believe subsequent publicity after the publication of his memoir (several versions were published) inflated his participation None of this backseat whinging changes the fact being in a war is horrible, and Lawrence was definitely fighting in the Arab war against the Turkish Ottomans who were allies of the Germans Military men go without food and adequate shelter They see and do appalling killings of men, women and children They watch close friends as well as themselves endure terrible injuries without medical care for days They live with days months of anxiety, not knowing when they will be in battle, or if they will survive the horrors of war, and not knowing how things will end in any campaign They never know when they will be resupplied, or rescued if under attack or when they will be given new instructions to move somewhere unknown for reasons unknown by an unfamiliar officer withrank Lawrence experienced all of this But he also had a lot of talent in languages, in stamina, in willpower From reading his book, he was selfdirected, able to think for himself, and willing to take enormous risks with the lives of people for whom he was responsible If he disagreed with a strategy, he organized opposition by going to disparate groups (hundreds of leaders of various Arab tribes, English/French/Indian commanders) who normally couldn't agree on anything and convinced them to work together for a different plan He also often faked it until he made it something he admits to frequently in his book He made command decisions often without real authority other than what he pretended as an irregular British officer, and he admits to bonehead failures and surprising (sometimes to him) successes.For us, gentle reader, the most important aspect of Lawrence's book is he was a damn good writer! However, the book, which is almost like a diary but with chapters and few dates, does not go into the Big Picture of the war in Arabia, so below I have copied from Wikipedia a timeline which clarifies the onthestreet coverage Lawrence does in his book:Lawrence's most important contributions to the Arab Revolt were in the area of strategy and liaison with British armed forces, but he also participated personally in several military engagements: 3 January 1917: Attack on an Ottoman outpost in the Hejaz26 March 1917: Attack on the railway at Aba el Naam11 June 1917: Attack on a bridge at Ras Baalbek2 July 1917: Defeat of the Ottoman forces at Aba el Lissan, an outpost of Aqaba18 September 1917: Attack on the railway near Mudawara27 September 1917: Attack on the railway, destroyed an engine7 November 1917: Following a failed attack on the Yarmuk bridges, blew up a train on the railway between Dera'a and Amman, suffering several wounds in the explosion and ensuing combat23 January 1918: The battle of Tafileh, a region southeast of the Dead Sea, with Arab regulars under the command of Jafar Pasha alAskari; the battle was a defensive engagement that turned into an offensive rout and was described in the official history of the war as a brilliant feat of arms Lawrence was awarded the Distinguished Service Order for his leadership at Tafileh and was promoted to lieutenant colonel.March 1918: Attack on the railway near Aqaba19 April 1918: Attack using British armoured cars on Tell Shahm16 September 1918: Destruction of railway bridge between Amman and Dera'a26 September 1918: Attack on retreating Ottomans and Germans near the village of Tafas; the Ottoman forces massacred the villagers and then Arab forces in return massacred their prisoners with Lawrence's encouragement.Lawrence made a 300mile personal journey northward in June 1917, on the way to Aqaba, visiting Ras Baalbek, the outskirts of Damascus, and Azraq, Jordan 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 His findings were regarded by the British as extremely valuable and there was serious consideration of awarding him a Victoria Cross; in the end, he was invested as a Companion of the Order of the Bath and promoted to Major.Lawrence travelled regularly between British headquarters and Faisal, coordinating military action But by early 1918, Faisal's chief British liaison was Colonel Pierce Charles Joyce, and Lawrence's time was chiefly devoted to raiding and intelligencegathering By the summer of 1918, the Turks were offering a substantial reward for Lawrence's capture, initially £5,000 and eventually £20,000 (approx $2.1 million in 2017 dollars or £1.5 million) One officer wrote in his notes: Though a price of £15,000 has been put on his head by the Turks, no Arab has, as yet, attempted to betray him The Sharif of Mecca has given him the status of one of his sons, and he is just the finely tempered steel that supports the whole structure of our influence in Arabia He is a very inspiring gentleman adventurer.The fact Lawrence had a price out on his head is enough proof for me Lawrence did certainly play an important part in the war!Lawrence had first explored Arabia, from Wikipedia: In 1910, Lawrence was offered the opportunity to become a practising archaeologist at Carchemish, in the expedition that D G Hogarth was setting up on behalf of the British Museum Hogarth arranged a Senior Demyship (a form of scholarship) for Lawrence at Magdalen College, Oxford to fund his work at £100 a year He sailed for Beirut in December 1910 and went to Jbail (Byblos), where he studied Arabic He then went to work on the excavations at Carchemish, near Jerablus in northern Syria, where he worked under Hogarth, R Campbell Thompson of the British Museum, and Leonard Woolley until 1914.Then, when World War I was declared:In January 1914, Woolley and Lawrence were coopted by the British military as an archaeological smokescreen for a British military survey of the Negev Desert They were funded by the Palestine Exploration Fund to search for an area referred to in the Bible as the Wilderness of Zin, and they made an archaeological survey of the Negev Desert along the way The Negev was strategically important, as an Ottoman army attacking Egypt would have to cross it Woolley and Lawrence subsequently published a report of the expedition's archaeological findings,[40] but aimportant result was updated mapping of the area, with special attention to features of military relevance such as water sources Lawrence also visited Aqaba and Shobek, not far from Petra.Following the outbreak of hostilities in August 1914, Lawrence did not immediately enlist in the British Army He held back until October on the advice of S F Newcombe, when he was commissioned on the General List Before the end of the year, he was summoned by renowned archaeologist and historian Lt Cmdr David Hogarth, his mentor at Carchemish, to the new Arab Bureau intelligence unit in Cairo, and he arrived in Cairo on 15 December 1914 The Bureau's chief was General Gilbert Clayton who reported to Egyptian High Commissioner Henry McMahon In 1915 there was a new idea being talked about by the various leadership of the main tribes of nonTurkish Arabs Arab leaders wondered if they could unite the hundreds of various small related desert tribes into individual countries, like Europe The idea became an operative hope because of the war Lawrence actively explored and promoted Arab freedom in the Arabian Kings' and princes' courts he visited within the Arabicspeaking Ottoman territories Frankly, the Arab tribes were not the kind of people who enjoyed joining in anything, so these leaders were struggling not only with the Ottoman Turks and European powers, but with their own people Lawrence was often acting unofficially on his own as an ambassador between Arab tribes, Arab princes, and his British overlords, as well as officially He wrote of having bad headaches from this job of mediation between competitive tribes that he often assumed on his own initiative Omg, MY own head hurt from reading about the petty and dangerous squabbles Lawrence dealt with constantly between leaders And then there were the knife fights between individuals from different tribes in the field! It reminded me of a schoolyard monitor trying to keep neighborhood teenage gang members from shooting each other over petty insults and old grudges.One of Lawrence's biggest disappointments after the war was the betrayal of the Arabs by the European war powers They reneged on their promises to the Arab Kings to support their bid for creating Arab nations free from colonialism He had made friends among the Arabs, and he felt like he had been put into the unwilling position of a Judas goat.Besides describing the war missions of blowing up train tracks, bridges and of attacking Turkish camps, Lawrence describes Arab customs and ways of life in his memoir He spoke fluent Arabic, so he was able to suss out what the tribes thought of each other and the British outsiders from an insider's viewpoint He did not hesitate to live as Arabs did, eat as they did, dress as they did Considering the harsh deserts (and rural poverty) they lived in, it was important he learned their ways to survive the huge swing of temperatures from summer to winter, the lack of water and available foodstuffs, the lack of roads, airports, navigable rivers, etc He really had to learn how to ride and care for camels He became an expert! But he really really pushed himself and the people assigned to follow him or be his guides into terrible environments that even the Arabs found daunting There were awful bugs, and going without bathing for weeks and no food and water for days! Because of a strong willfulness of character, he often went on these dangerous journeys alone looking for Turk encampments and good places to blow up, making maps From many poetic descriptions of the land in his memoir I think he loved being in those isolated but beautiful rocky and sandy places with only a riding and a supply camel, no matter that he could meet Turkish soldiers or unfriendly Arabs Because of the cultural individualism of Arab mentality, an Arab or tribe could switch allegiances because of perceived insults, whim or bribes Lawrence navigated through all of the difficulties despite being a British foreigner.Lawrence's parents were not married, but he was the second of five sons He was born in Wales, but the family moved from there to Scotland and later England As a bastard, he probably could never have married into a 'good' family However, many of his friends believed him asexual From reading his memoir, I think he may have been homosexual, but he definitely was not very active sexually, if so I agree with many who think he was a masochist There are reports he hired men to whip him after the war I think these stories are true He underwent unthinkable deprivations and sufferings in wartime service to his country, and he chose to serve in one of the most inhospitable places for humans to survive Arabia There is a famous incident of sexual torture and possible rape when he was captured by Turks while on a reconnaissance mission He notes in this book how in Deraa that night the citadel of my integrity had been irrevocably lost In the chapters after this, Lawrence is noticeably less interested and very tired of the job he had been doing, mentioningandoften he wanted to go home.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/T.E.LI loved you, so I drew these tides ofMen into my handsAnd wrote my will across theSky in starsTo earn you freedom, the seven Pillared worthy house,That your eyes might beShining for meWhen I cameDeath seemed my servant on theRoad, 'til we were nearAnd saw you waiting:When you smiled and in sorrowful Envy he outran meAnd took you apart:Into his quietnessLove, the wayweary, groped to your body,Our brief wageOurs for the momentBefore Earth's soft hand explored your shapeAnd the blindWorms grew fat uponYour substanceMen prayed me that I set our work,The inviolate house,As a memory of youBut for fit monument I shattered it,Unfinished: and nowThe little things creep out to patchThemselves hovelsIn the marred shadowOf your gift.T E LawrenceThere are maps, appendixes of soldiers and their companies, tables of positions and movements, and indexes of places and people. This is the book that the film Lawrence of Arabia is loosely based upon I say loosely, because after finishing the book I rented the film and watched it all the way through for the first time since I was a kid It was only then that I realised that although the film is a magnificent piece of filmmaking, it is very inaccurate in places and often just simply wrong T.E Lawrence was muchextraordinary and his achievements and muchastonishing even than the amazing portrayal of him in the film But, I suppose the difficulty of making a film of 'Lawrence of Arabia' is, how do you compress so much into so little time and how do you explain certain things simply and quickly Hence the film seems to me now like a series of snapshots of events that did happen and some that didn't, but perhaps including the made up stuff to make the story on screen flows better.T.E Lawrence was like Indiana Jones and James Bond and some SAS type hero all rolled into one This archaeologist’s assistant was turned down by the Army for being too short He was no soldier, but he read Clausewitz and all the other great military theorists, created his own war and applied all he learned to great effect Nobody told him to capture the strategic port of Aqaba that was his idea He didn’t even inform his superiors He enrolled the Arab tribesman in the project, rode across the desert and took it And that was almost just the start!There are two books I was reminded of when going through Seven Pillars of Wisdom and they are 'My War Gone By, I Miss It So' by Anthony Lloyd and 'The Lord of The Rings' The first because I think this book is surprisingly personal or intimate for a book written shortly after WWI I was at times actually quite shocked and disturbed by Lawrence’s thoughts and feelings Not so much that he had them, but that a national hero, who turned down a knighthood and a Victoria Cross not to mention two Croix De Guerres, writing shortly after World War One, would share such things with the general public It made me think of Lord Of The Rings not only because what Lawrence did in mostly just two short years is an absolutely epic tale, but because so much of it revolves around ancestor worshiping/respecting tribesmen with bizarre sounding names from bizarre sounding places So a typical paragraph may be Lawrences meeting with Maahmoud, renowned desert warrior of the AbuOrense, son of Ali, scourge of the WaddiOdd, blood enemies of the Abu Tayi, and so on Fortunately It’s all online and you can search the text to see where those particular names came up before and avoid your head spinning with confusion.I’m no judge of prose but it seems almost poetic at times According to Michael Korda, author of ‘Hero: The Life And Legend Of Lawrence Of Arabia’, Lawrence was a skilled writer and examination of his letters demonstrate he would very much alter his style depending on who he was writing to Korda also describes Lawrence’s description in ‘Seven Pillars Of Wisdom’ of the attack on the train at Mudowwara as the very best of war writing So much happens in just ten minutes and Lawrence’s style is perfect: the mine is detonated, the Turkish troops on the roofs machine gunned, some Turkish troops take shelter behind a bank and are hit with mortars, the train is looted, some Austrian officers and NCOs are taken prisoner, one of them pulls a pistol and they are massacred by the Arabs, Lawrence has time to reassure and old woman passenger and find her servant/slave, a badly wounded Arab, who Lawrence should have protected is left behind by mistake and Lawrence is distressed as he should have been killed as they cannot take him with them and the Turks will horribly kill the badly wounded, and so on It makes me think of the helicopter attack scene in the film Apocalypse Now in that a lot happens in short space of time, much of it is horrible, some of it is incongruous and some of it weird, and you are on the edge of your seat trying to imagine what that must have been like I found the battle scenes compelling A.P Wavell (later Field Marshall Wavell) wrote of Lawrence’s description of the battle of Talifah, that it was“one of the best descriptions of a battle ever penned” Aside from the battle scenes, many of the descriptions of the Arabs and their way of life are marvellous It’s just a fantastic book, because its well written and fantastic story nearly every part of which could be independently verified which is just astonishing How many men have had such an adventure? Alexander the Great maybe? That’s the sort of League T.E Lawrence ended up in. Well, I've been working on this one for a while It is by turns majestic, tiresome, enigmatic, and written in the grand manner of the 19th Century It is interesting to find the big moments of the film, Lawrence of Arabia, almost made light of in his memoir He seems to be vain about all the wrong things I imagine he wasn't a very likable chap but you have to admit he did remarkable things, and I marvel at some of the writing here. Seven Pillars of Wisdom is an unusual and rich work It encompasses an account of the Arab Revolt against the Turks during the First World War alongside general Middle Eastern and military history, politics, adventure and drama It is also a memoir of the soldier known as 'Lawrence of Arabia'Lawrence is a fascinating and controversial figure and his talent as a vivid and imaginative writer shines through on every page of this, his masterpiece Seven Pillars of Wisdom provides a unique portrait of this extraordinary man and an insight into the birth of the Arab nation