18.6.15

HERO, by Michael Korda

"Those who don't know history are doomed to repeat it." That's no doubt a paraphrase but it is nonetheless true. One has only to look at the unholy mess the Near East has become to see the truth of it. This biography of Lawrence of Arabia, the brilliant but erratic Irish-born lover of all things Arabic, is as germane today as it was when Lawrence became legend, in the tumultuous era beginning during the Great War. One hundred years ago today, Arabia was an unformed, borderless  melange of petty fiefdoms, squabbling tribes, devious and bloodthirsty warlords, all of it nominally "owned" by the crumbling Ottoman Empire. Everything was up for grabs, and the primary powers - England, France, Russia - were maneuvering madly to keep the area out of the war. Click below for more...
This was an age when a single man could make a difference, and Lawrence was perfectly positioned to do so. He was passionate about Arabia being its own master - totally at odds with his masters back in London - and he became friends with such pivotal figures as ibn Saud, warlord and founder of the future Saudia Arabia. Dense and meticulously researched, the book will sweep you along with the maneuverings and posturings that helped to build the world as it now is.
It's a 4.
The author, while well-represented on line, has no web site.
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