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Lawrence in Arabia: War, Deceit, Imperial Folly and the Making of the Modern Middle East (2013)

de Scott Anderson

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1,3925013,152 (4.15)47
A narrative chronicle of World War I's Arab Revolt explores the pivotal roles of a small group of adventurers and low-level officers who orchestrated a secret effort to control the Middle East, demonstrating how they instigated jihad against British forces, built an elaborate intelligence ring and forged ties to gain valuable oil concessions.… (més)
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» Mira també 47 mencions

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  AnkaraLibrary | Feb 23, 2024 |
T.E. Lawrence has always fascinated me. Anderson (the author of "The Quiet Americans") succeeds in telling Lawrence's story in a single book. ( )
  ben_r47 | Feb 22, 2024 |
Re-read this incredible recount of how the Middle East was shaped into the quagmire it is today. Unbelievably poignant time in history regarding the fall of the Ottoman Empire, western greed, and the destruction of stability for a century and likely much longer. ( )
1 vota RyneAndal | Jul 12, 2023 |
A well-written and interesting history of the Middle East during the time of the First World War. Written as a combined biography of T.E. Lawrence, Aaron Aaronsohn, Curt Prüfer and William Yale. Lawrence we know, the others were all spys, among other things. Lawrence, of course, is the most famous of the four, and the book is largely his story, with occasional pauses to see what the others are up to. One reader told me that he found this to be an aggravating diversion. My knowledge of Lawrence had come only from his "Revolt in the Desert" and David Lean's movie, so an objective history was very enlightening and a pleasure. ( )
  markm2315 | Jul 1, 2023 |
T.E. Lawrence has always intrigued me. Not that I know much about him, but something about him, as played by Peter O’Toole in my minds eye, has always seemed mysterious and exciting, though I could not have put my finger on it. I visualize a blonde, wild-eyed rebel, a man who could manipulate the greatest of world empires to his will, who crossed deserts and captured cities, ambushed armies and sabotaged trains, and laid the ground work for the modern Middle East...and then walked away from it all. Who was this iconoclast of a man?

I first discovered him in the 1962 film “Lawrence of Arabia,” played by the already mentioned and inimitable Peter O’Toole, and I remember that I wanted to read Lawrence’s Seven Pillars of Wisdom (spoiler alert: I never have, though I did find a copy in a second hand bookstore that I bought and maybe someday will even read). The movie was exciting, and Lawrence was a real world Luke Skywalker, a lone hero leading a scrappy band of rebels against the might of the Ottoman Empire, which in turn was allied with the worst villains of history, the Nazis. In my youth, the extent of my analysis was bemoan the tragedy of Lawrence’s untimely death, and never mind the complex threads that took the young British man to the center of the strange and convoluted politics gripped and twisted the Middle East in the early decades of the 20th century. It left an itch in my mind, one I left unscratched for many years until this book came along, highly recommended (and, fortunate for me as I painted a room in my home, readily available in audio version).

So let me come right to the point: Scott Anderson does not disappoint. While nominally naming his book after Lawrence, he expands his story to three other scions of the age who also participated in the forces that transformed the political lines of the area. Here we have Curt Prufer, a midlevel German diplomat, Aaron Aaronsohn, an accomplished agronomist who was also a committed Zionist, and William Yale, an American and son of a down-on-its-luck upperclass family who somehow found himself looking for petroleum resources for Standard Oil on the sly. Their paths intertwine and overlap, and each becomes a protagonist in their own right as much as Lawrence, leaving me as intrigued with each as I was with him. As a rose by any other name is still a rose, each becomes in one form or another a spy for their own people, whether Prufer for Germany, Aaronsohn for Zionism, and Yale for Standard Oil and them for the Americans.

To be sure, the underlying tragedy here is that each is really just part of a sideshow while the greater narrative—World War I—is centered elsewhere, boiling over into the Middle East in the contest of empires that caused the death and suffering of so many, not just on the frontlines of the battles, but as resources and crops and materials were gobbled up and taken for the war effort. Here we see the Turks killing the Kurds, the Jews and Arabs competing for survival, and the British and French (and to a lesser extent the Americans) competing for lines on a maps for the prestige of empire.

It’s a tragedy.

And what does it do to these men? And the men and women and children that are caught up? What has it done to the people and their descendants in the in the intervening decades and generations that have lived with the effects of the war? Nothing but tragedy comes from the story. ( )
  publiusdb | Apr 4, 2023 |
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"Through his large cast, Anderson is able to explore the muddles of the early-20th-century Middle East from several distinct and enlightening perspectives."
 
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A narrative chronicle of World War I's Arab Revolt explores the pivotal roles of a small group of adventurers and low-level officers who orchestrated a secret effort to control the Middle East, demonstrating how they instigated jihad against British forces, built an elaborate intelligence ring and forged ties to gain valuable oil concessions.

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