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Lawrence
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About the Author

Michael Asher has served in the Parachute Regiment and the SAS. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, and has won the Ness Award of the Royal Geographical Society and the Mungo Park Medal of the Royal Scottish Geographical Society for Exploration. All four of his Death or Glory novels are available from Penguin in paperback and ebook.

Reviews

Col. T.E. Lawrence, a British army intelligence officer, led the successful revolt of the Arabs against their Turkish rulers during World War I, thereby becoming a worldwide celebrity, a role he retained and cultivated for the rest of his life. Bitterly disappointed after the war by what he considered the British and the French betrayal of the Arabs by failing to create an independent Arab state, Lawrence withdrew from public life to write his massive account of the revolt, The Seven Pillars of Wisdom, and to serve as a lowly private in the British air force and army from 1922 until his accidental death in 1935. Asher, who has explored the Arabian peninsula and written several books about it, offers a detailed, sympathetic, but nevertheless clear-eyed "warts-and-all" account of this extraordinary man. The thrust of the narrative, however, is often blunted by excessive detail. Recommended for the World War I and Middle East collections of academic libraries.ÄHarry Frumerman, formerly with Hunter Coll., New York Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.

As an explorer and Arabist, Asher (Two Against the Sahara) is well equipped to add an interesting psychological dimension to the figure of T.E. Lawrence (1888-1935). Asher personally retraces the footsteps of Lawrence, as recounted in his classic Seven Pillars of Wisdom, and in doing so takes the reader on an intimate journey into the mind and motivations of the popularly proclaimed father of "Arab independence." A bookish youth whose reading led him to view "the East as a parallel world, a dimension to which, in future, he might find the chance to escape," Lawrence fled his Victorian upbringing and an overbearing mother by joining, first, an archeological team and, later, the army intelligence service. Asher's Lawrence is a flawed man thrust by events into the forefront of history. Asher recounts Lawrence's exploits in the Arab Revolt in a fast-paced narrative style more suitable to many modern readers than Lawrence's original classic. Lawrence's subsequent disillusionment with the shortsighted view taken of the Middle East by Britain is not as important to Asher's story as the tortured paths of the explorer's soul. The book presents an excellent analysis of the personal demons that plagued Lawrence throughout his life, his revulsion over the horrors of war and the torment of reconciling his strict religious upbringing with his homosexuality. Asher points out several discrepancies in Lawrence's original narrative, noting Lawrence's self-proclaimed "aptitude for deceit," and weighing those inventions against the overall brilliance of the man and his work. Asher won't quite succeed in erasing the image of Peter O'Toole from readers' minds, but he adeptly ties the compelling figure of Lawrence to the political upheavals of the Arab world. (Sept.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.

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