Monday, December 27, 2010
Hero: The Life and Legend of Lawrence of Arabia by Michael Korda
When thinking of Lawrence of Arabia, visions of a man in flowing white robes in a desert landscape will usually come to mind. But what of the real man? Of his real accomplishments? Michael Korda's book, Hero: The Life and Legend of Lawrence of Arabia, has gotten high praise for illuminating this legendary man, T.E. Lawrence, a scholar and an archaeologist, who was sent to Cairo as a young man and helped unite the Arab tribes to defeat the Turks.
Michael Korda's Hero is the story of an epic life on a grand scale: a revealing, in-depth, and gripping biography of the extraordinary, mysterious, and dynamic Englishman whose daring exploits and romantic profile—including his blond, sun-burnished good looks and flowing white robes—made him an object of intense fascination, still famous the world over as "Lawrence of Arabia."... In illuminating Lawrence's achievements, Korda digs further than anyone before him to expose the flesh-and-blood man and his contradictory nature. Here was a born leader who was utterly fearless and seemingly impervious to pain, thirst, fatigue, and danger, yet who remained shy, sensitive, mod-est, and retiring; a hero who turned down every honor and decoration offered to him, and was racked by moral guilt and doubt; a scholar and an aesthete who was also a bold and ruthless warrior; a writer of genius—the author of Seven Pillars of Wisdom, one of the greatest books ever written about war—who was the virtual inventor of modern insurgency and guerrilla warfare; a man who at the same time sought and fled the limelight, and who found in friendships, with everyone from Winston Churchill to George Bernard and Charlotte Shaw, from Nancy Astor to Noël Coward, a substitute for sexual feelings that he rigorously—even brutally and systematically—repressed in himself.
For history buffs, as well as people who enjoy biographies, Hero: The Life and Legend of Lawrence of Arabia, should satisfy. I myself am looking forward to diving into this one. Not only to really learn about T.E. Lawrence, but to understand the political atmosphere that existed in the Middle East during WW I.