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Have you read the entire Seven Pillars? I took me the better part of a winter, but well worth it for the uncanny quality of prose and observation.

Interestingly, the project in which Lawrence was involved was somewhat reminiscent of the neo-con pipe dream. The kooks at the Cairo Office thought that Husein, the Sherif of Mecca, could be set up as a sort of counter-Khalif to rally the Arab masses against the Ottoman Sultan's declaration of jihad. No such luck really, and the hyped "Arab revolt" had rather minor significance. Even the savage raids on the Medina-Damascus railroad were mostly a nuisance to the Turks. Most of the demolition, not to mention the fighting, was done by British troops. Damascus was actually "liberated" by Australians after first being seized by Arabs hostile to the Brits. This last is a fact that Lawrence does his utmost to obscure in the book, in order to bolster the Arab cause, itself a propaganda ploy against the French, who in the end got hold of Syria and were faced with a more effective insurgency.

Also, contrary to the book, Feisal appears to have known about the Sykes-Picot treaty all along. However, to his credit, Lawrence did realize and warn about the lasting resentment this treaty caused among the Arabs, which is still being felt today.

The world's northernmost desert wind.

by Sirocco (sirocco2005ATgmail.com) on Wed Apr 5th, 2006 at 07:43:13 AM EST
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I lack the time and patience for such dedication. I kept on straying after the capture of Akaba, cherry-picking here and there.

And I wasn't aware of the historic discrepancies within the 7 Pillars of Wisdom! I've read too little for that, so thanks. But for cultural insights, it was great material.

by Nomad on Wed Apr 5th, 2006 at 06:52:39 PM EST
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I agree the ending is weak--the whole (I think) last chapter.  Thank you for an explanation why.  

Lawrence feel for--and description of--terrain is just amazing.  

An obsessed and eccentric character, one nevertheless gets the impression he is describing Arab culture as it is.  (Or was).  I have nerver encountered another western author who sought to do this.  

(Well, Richard Burton, but I really haven't read much.)  

Modern writers seem determined to perceive nothing.  I won't bother you with references to tedious, self important, egotistical not to say ethnocentric,  . . . well, never mind:  You get the idea . . .

The Fates are kind.

by Gaianne on Sat Apr 8th, 2006 at 02:32:14 PM EST
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