LAWRENCE IN ARABIA – Review by Chris Buckham

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LAWRENCE IN ARABIA – Review by Chris Buckham Empty LAWRENCE IN ARABIA – Review by Chris Buckham

Post by Guest on Sat May 30, 2015 8:15 am

Altruism is not a principle of war nor is it a principle of international relations and it is with this pretext that one must approach the machinations and deal-making that typified the Middle East during the years leading up to, during and immediately following the First World War. Anderson’s book presents the reader with a road map of the toing’s and froing’s between the key actors and nation states of the period and the impact that it has had on the long term social and political development of the region. Certainly, the decisions made then have reverberated down through the decades and continue to be felt in the challenges that we are dealing with today.

Anderson has been able to effectively cut through the Gordian knot of Middle Eastern societies and politics and break down the story into a manageable and traceable narrative. It is truly awe inspiring the degree of naked ambition (both personal and national) that manifested itself at the expense of all else during this period. The example of France refusing to sanction an attack on Alexandretta in 1915 (resulting in the Gallipoli Campaign) because of its fear that it would lose its post war claim to Syria (this despite the fact that militarily it made eminent sense to strike there) boggles the mind with both its hubris and expectation.

Turk vs Arab, House of Saud vs Hussein, British vs French, Entente vs Central Power, Lawrence vs Sykes, Tribe vsTribe, Egypt vs India the list is endless of the competitive agendas that were undertaken as the dance of the Middle East carried on. A consistent theme throughout was Lawrence and his role as guide, intermediary, policy maker and manipulator between all of the various parties. The book is not about Lawrence specifically, but the central role that he plays in this drama is key to the long termresults. The author does a very credible job of providing the reader a clear understanding of the personalities involved, what drives them, their biases, strengths and weaknesses; none more so than Lawrence. He holds himself aloof from those around him and forges his own path regardless of the intent or direction from his superiors; a true loose cannon. In doing so, he also contributes to the tragedy that unfolds in the region even while he plunges into cynicism and disillusionment with the Great Powers.

This book was a finalist for the National Book Critics Award and it is easy to understand why. Anderson has drafted an eminently readable and, more importantly, comprehendible synopsis of the years leading to the collapse of the Ottoman empire, the intricacies of the war years, the betrayal of promises made to the Arabs and the realignment of the Middle East in the vision of the victorious Western Powers. Additionally, Anderson provides an extensive bibliography and notes section for further study. For those seeking an in-depth yet engaging backgrounder for the modern challenges of the Middle East, this is a book to be read.

Reviewed by Chris Buckham for War History Online.


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Post by Ben Reilly on Sat May 30, 2015 8:25 am

Kind of funny how those with naked and pretty much vulgar ambition tend to end up our leaders, huh? Smile

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Post by Guest on Sat May 30, 2015 8:28 am

Ben_Reilly wrote:Kind of funny how those with naked and pretty much vulgar ambition tend to end up our leaders, huh? Smile


This is true Ben.

Lawrence is a very interesting charismatic individual though for the time, which much can be learnt from this tie in history.

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Post by Ben Reilly on Sat May 30, 2015 8:33 am

Belatucadros wrote:
Ben_Reilly wrote:Kind of funny how those with naked and pretty much vulgar ambition tend to end up our leaders, huh? Smile


This is true Ben.

Lawrence is a very interesting charismatic individual though for the time, which much can be learnt from this tie in history.

I think of it the way I think of a good friend of mine who has always frustrated me with how precisely organized he has to have everything. Long ago I needed a vehicle (pretty much the state of life for struggling journalists) and his mother had a truck for sale.

I went to her house to buy it and saw that she had her entire house hyper-organized to the point of madness. My friend wasn't nearly that bad, but I realized the truth of something he himself had said to me -- we're all just improvements upon our parents.

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"Some would call it happiness, but I like to think that what I found is me. That sounds simple enough, but the truth is, it took quite a while to do it."

- Willie Nelson
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Post by Guest on Sat May 30, 2015 8:36 am

Ben_Reilly wrote:
Belatucadros wrote:


This is true Ben.

Lawrence is a very interesting charismatic individual though for the time, which much can be learnt from this tie in history.

I think of it the way I think of a good friend of mine who has always frustrated me with how precisely organized he has to have everything. Long ago I needed a vehicle (pretty much the state of life for struggling journalists) and his mother had a truck for sale.

I went to her house to buy it and saw that she had her entire house hyper-organized to the point of madness. My friend wasn't nearly that bad, but I realized the truth of something he himself had said to me -- we're all just improvements upon our parents.


I like that concept which certainly does fit the pattern of some people.

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Post by Ben Reilly on Sat May 30, 2015 8:47 am

Belatucadros wrote:
Ben_Reilly wrote:
Belatucadros wrote:


This is true Ben.

Lawrence is a very interesting charismatic individual though for the time, which much can be learnt from this tie in history.

I think of it the way I think of a good friend of mine who has always frustrated me with how precisely organized he has to have everything. Long ago I needed a vehicle (pretty much the state of life for struggling journalists) and his mother had a truck for sale.

I went to her house to buy it and saw that she had her entire house hyper-organized to the point of madness. My friend wasn't nearly that bad, but I realized the truth of something he himself had said to me -- we're all just improvements upon our parents.


I like that concept which certainly does fit the pattern of some people.

It might just be a way for aging liberals like me to find peace -- we just learn to accept that change comes more slowly than we want Smile

_________________
"Some would call it happiness, but I like to think that what I found is me. That sounds simple enough, but the truth is, it took quite a while to do it."

- Willie Nelson
Ben Reilly
Ben Reilly
Cowboy King. Dread Pirate of the Guadalupe. God of Thunder.

Posts : 27662
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Age : 44
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