To add more complications to the situation was the Zionist movement which was determined to create a Jewish homeland in Palestine. Into the middle of this situation came T. Lawrence, a low level army officer with an immense knowledge of the area and a speaker of Arabic in all its dialects. His duty was to pull all the tribes of Arabic bedouins into a revolt against the Turkish with the promise of a country of their own.
And the mythical Lawrence of Arabia was born. Lawrence was a complex man who was disliked by many of his countrymen but generally loved by the Arabs. There is so much happening in this book that I could write pages about it but, although I only mentioned Lawrence, there are other very interesting characters abounding in these pages. It is fascinating and very well researched and written. And forget the Lawrence of Arabia that is in your mind's eye He was a much different man and much more interesting.
A well written overview of T. Scott Anderson focuses on the Middle East but he also does a good job of outlining events in Europe. Not knowing much about WWI I was shocked by the scale of the killing. How little did those in power value life to sacrifice hundreds of thousands of lives in such futile battles?
The arrogance which led to such bloodshed is shown to have extended to foreign policy as British a A well written overview of T. The arrogance which led to such bloodshed is shown to have extended to foreign policy as British and French diplomats divide and redivide spoils of a war not even close to being won. Maybe something similar happens during every war. There is a big cast of characters and they are all quite fascinating but they can be a bit tricky to keep track of.
I especially got mixed up with the rotating cast of Lawrence's higher ups. I found myself wishing I'd read it all in one go so as to avoid having to go back and look up who was who. The kindle version has a feature called X-ray which pulls up blurbs on people and places that came in handy. There are many tantalizing what ifs along the way. Chaim Weizmann and Prince Faisal lobbying the peace conference for a joint Arab-Jewish state there's even a picture of them together wearing keffiyehs , a movement of Syrian exiles lobbying for an American protectorate " It's hard to resist thoughts of what might have been but Anderson does a good job of dismantling these hopes in the epilogue although pointing out "it's hard to imagine that any of this could possibly have produced a sadder history than what has actually transpired over the past century Aug 07, Tamara added it Shelves: I'll spare y'all the seemingly obligatory, world weary, gently sorrowful musings as to how the Middle East ended in its current predicaments - oh, the humanity!
The writing is generally great, understandable, quick, colorful - but it is a little too long, a little too novelistic in places. I'm not really up on the historiography of Lawrence, which the book sometimes seemed to assume one ought to be. Some parts - maybe the whole thing - feel like they're taking a stance in an argument about his actions and character that I just wasn't privy too. Not in itself a problem, but it would have been nice to get more of that background for the uninitiated. Anderson is willing to undercut and question Lawrence at time, very ably digging into his letters and memoirs as text, so to speak, to note when something seems too far fetched, too neat, too cliched, comparing against other sources and common sense where available.
On the other hand, there are other episodes - just as grand and cinematic, just as personal and devoid of corroboration - he accepts seemingly at face value. What are the sources? Why reject some and accept others? The book also takes the respectful sort of tack and refuses to dive too deeply into the persona of Lawrence himself. I thought this was a good idea for the most part, not turning it into a gossipy biography given what the book is really about, which I might admittedly not be quite the target audience of but still a touch frustrating. Passing references to mental breakdowns, possible homosexuality, ambition or lack thereof, etc, really could have stood to be expounded on a little.
At least in AGAIN pointing out what the sources here were would have been useful, especially since a lot of it did seem to have some bearing on actual alliances, decisions and historically relevant courses of action. Plus, I'm ok with gossiping about the dead. Ultimately, since the politics and the basic historical outline - and even the details of the diplomatic wrangling - are all very familiar to me this is the stuff of Israeli highschool history finals.
Wake me up in the middle of the night, to this day, and I can tell you all about the Hussein-McMahon correspondence what I was hoping for was more detail about Lawrence and the Arab Rebellion. That's not really the focus, unfortunately. There's very little sense of the political meaning of the rebellion for those who conducted it or even very much military detail. It's more of a history of how the British bureaucracy of WW1 managed the rebellion and the imperial slavering at the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire than a history of the rebellion itself, which is a bit of a shame at the end of the day.
Masterful, engaging historical non-fiction told through a cast of characters that are "too true to be good". Anderson takes a focus on Lawrence, constantly examining the culturally accepted legends of his story, and also examines three other men in the region at the same time: A brilliant and compelling personal narrative that gives the reader a deeper appreciation for the founding of the Mi Masterful, engaging historical non-fiction told through a cast of characters that are "too true to be good".
A brilliant and compelling personal narrative that gives the reader a deeper appreciation for the founding of the Middle East. Not to be missed! Jun 14, Julie Christine rated it really liked it Shelves: There is no time in the past one hundred years that the events chronicled in Scott Anderson's epic Lawrence in Arabia: War, Deceit, Imperial Folly and the Making of the Modern Middle East would not have astonishing and heartbreaking relevance to our understanding of conflicts in every corner of the Middle East, and by the blurry extension of artificially-created borders, South Asia.
Yet, to read this book during the week that Israel launched a ground offensive in Gaza, U. History is the top of the hour news updates. Today's bloodshed is born of yesterday's ignorance, power plays, and backdoor agreements. The central narrative of Lawrence in Arabia does indeed revolve around the young, physically slight, Oxford scholar T. Lawrence, and his complicated relationship with the Middle East, but this book is so much more than a biography of one man. It is a multi-character examination of the end of the Ottoman Empire, the first stirrings of the nation of Israel, and the carving of the enormous space between the Sahara desert and Afghanistan, between the Black Sea and the Mediterranean, the Indian Ocean and the Red Sea into the modern Middle East.
State Department recruits him as an operative; Mark Sykes, the posh aristocrat who carves up the Middle East with his French counterpart, Georges Picot, only to double-cross the French in the end but have no sympathy for the cuckolded French. But it is T. Lawrence's actions and his physical and emotional journey through the Middle East--the stuff of legends--that captivate the reader and propel her through this fascinating, if not overwhelmingly detailed, account.
Anderson relives the horror of Gallipoli and Britain's devastating lack of imagination and intellect, Turkey's genocide against ethnic Armenians, and the role oil was beginning to play in the fight over who would claim which parts of the Middle East when the dust finally settled. But of course, the dust has never settled. Scott Anderson succeeds in taking complex, convoluted, and baffling events and distills them with great storytelling aplomb into something the lay historian can follow and appreciate.
Jun 06, Ahmed Chowdhry rated it really liked it Shelves: This book pretty much provides the backstory of the current Middle East and how it came about. The deception of the imperial powers mainly Britain and France to secure their own imperial goals and how it has lead to the situation we mostly find ourselves in today. The book tries to be a biography of Lawrence asking how did Lawrence do it answer no one was looking and three others: Cu This book pretty much provides the backstory of the current Middle East and how it came about. I know that some reviewers had a problem with that but I actually liked how it broadened the subject from different point of views.
I gave it a four star because for me there is something lacking in the narrative. I am not sure I can put my finger on it right now, but it just feels that somehow this was a very good book though not a great one. Perhaps, it has to do with the fact that the author is a Journalist and not a historian? Maybe that is the case, but it is still a great read.
Aug 12, Trish rated it really liked it Shelves: This book would be a perfect semester-long study for young bucks with an interest in foreign affairs and a willingness to test themselves with knotty problems and harsh realities. Coming into the information with clear eyes and no prior understanding of the histories we have undergone in the past one hundred years, youths that imagine patterning themselves on the legendary stoic T.
Lawrence will have an education. Anderson had much primary material at his disposal to create this dense wartime This book would be a perfect semester-long study for young bucks with an interest in foreign affairs and a willingness to test themselves with knotty problems and harsh realities. Anderson had much primary material at his disposal to create this dense wartime history of The Middle East full of schemes and counter-schemes, spies and double agents, treachery unbound and heroism unheralded.
There might be just too much information for me here: In this way, the subtitle of the book is perhaps a truer picture of the contents than the title, and the two could be reversed. Anderson does a masterly job of marshaling the material and propelling the narrative with quotes from the players themselves. One becomes familiar with the skill and treachery of many men besides that of the enigmatic Lawrence. Lawrence is a device: Lawrence had been used before for such ends and at one time he would have been interested to read this many-faceted story of the times in which he lived and how it played out.
What would soon become clear, however, was that he intended to continue that fight off the battlefield, in the conference halls and meeting rooms of peacetime Paris. He may have asked to leave Damascus out of exhaustion, but it was also to prepare for the next round in the struggle for Arab independence. Lawrence worked out an agreement for the administration of an Arab-Jewish state in Palestine with then Prince Faisal ibn-Hussein of Syria and British Zionist Chaim Weizmann but the plan was scuttled by the British and French, who had earlier agreed to split the Middle East between them.
But the Lawrence of the First World War had died shortly after that war, though the man himself lived another seventeen years: All the while, he had been tormented by a sense of his own fraudulence, the awareness that the men who fought and died at his side were almost certain to be betrayed in the end.
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As he would suggest in Seven Pillars , and state quote explicitly in letters to friends, after Arabia he never wanted to be in a position of responsibility again: The whole globe was watching the unfolding events in the Middle East and everyone had different desires. The event-makers, in the end, did not have the effect of those who watched. Jul 10, Carole rated it it was amazing. This is a first-rate, readable biography by an author who knows how to tell a good story without sacrificing scholarship or research.
While focusing on Lawrence's astonishing path, he also traces three parallel characters - a German spy, an American adventurer in the employ of Standard Oil Company, and a Zionist activist who initiates, with some difficulty, a espionage ring.
This methodology adds context - not to mention color - to the complicated wheelings and dealings surrounding the "Arab Rev This is a first-rate, readable biography by an author who knows how to tell a good story without sacrificing scholarship or research. This methodology adds context - not to mention color - to the complicated wheelings and dealings surrounding the "Arab Revolt" during World War I. Amazingly, Lawrence seemed to be at the center of it all. Anderson does a remarkable job of moving the story along and bringing to life the myriad, diverse characters of this complicated tale.
He is able to shed light on the motivations of the various figures, whose conflicting goals came crashing together in Arabian middle east. All of this in a compelling narrative, that is virtually a page-turner. But it is much more than just a good story. Anderson cuts through myths and lore, including Lawrence's sometimes self-serving autobiographical Seven Pillars. He also notes actions where Lawrence understates his incredible impact. He exposes the myth of the supposed atrocities against Jews in Jaffa, which was widely used to gain sympathy for Jewish ambitions in Palestine.
The book provides a good background for understanding how we got to where we are in the Middle East. It's probably the best account written of Lawrence's remarkable adventures in Arabia. It's that rare read where you increase your knowledge significantly, while having a good time. May 01, Paula rated it it was ok. Its generally about micro politics, personal experiences, family histories and individual war maneuvers by the main players on the ground during WWI.
There is little information on the sociological, geographical or governmental arrangements in the middle east leading up to WWI or after the war. Instead it is about TE Lawrence and his specific experiences- which frankly- did not need another book to rehash in such minute detail. The region as a whole isn't much more clear to me now, but I slogged through a whole lot of excruciating detail for little reward on a global scale of present day understanding.
Aug 22, Jason rated it it was amazing. By focusing on four men: Lawrence of the British, Curt Prufer of the Germans, the Zionist Aaron Aaronsohn and the American oil manager, William Yale, the reader is taken down a path that is at once extremely complex, yet because this book is personality driven, made more simpler for contemporary readers.
Scott Anderson, a veteran American war correspondent, aims to take away the veneer of myth from this time period, and instead is able to illustrate the double dealing, the folly and the destructive social, moral, military, and political forces unleashed by many, particularly in London, Berlin and Paris, who did not at all understand the consequences of their actions.
Most of this work does focus on T. Lawrence, and especially how this scholar archeologist was able to see and comprehend the forces of early 20th century Ottoman Empire better than just about anyone else from Britain, France or Germany, in WWI. By focusing almost exclusively on Lawrence and three other interested parties, men who were some of the least likely persons to be involved in war and dismemberment of the corrupt Ottoman Empire.
I suppose due to Hollywood, Lawrence has entered the popular mind as an idealist, and to a large extent, this book presents him as such, especially in regards to his relations with his superior officers, whom he did not regard highly. For example, Lawrence's pleading to have an amphibious assault in what is now northern Syria, where Allied forces would be more welcome, versus the disaster of Galipoli, which was pushed by the disinterested French, should make you question every decision made by Allied high command, particularly at a political level.
But Lawrence also is presented here as someone greatly willing to contribute to Britain's victory. Yale, the standard Oil manager, and later US Army Captain and liaison to British forces in Palestine, is in many ways, the surprise of this work, as he was the most unlikely member of our quartet, yet perhaps the most significant in regards to the Paris Peace Conference, which really did change everything for the modern Middle East. Yale's influence on this work cannot be understated, for he was the only one of the four who lived to old age, and was able to write, teach and influence western policy especially the US and Britain in regards to the Middle East for decades, though he is largely unknown to the public.
The only real critique I have here is that the writing could have been condensed some, but the author has dealt with a mountain of material. Also, the author does not go into great detail about the differences between the various Arab and Palestinian groups fighting the Ottomans. It took me months to finish this book, but it wasn't the book's fault. The closer I got to the fall of Damascus 1 October , the larger the Versailles Peace Conference loomed on the horizon, with all the disasters it brought to the Middle East, Europe, and the rest of the world.
I didn't want to get there. Whenever I read about this period which in the course of my life has been fairly often , I want it to end differently. But it never does. That said, if you want a well-researched, well-wr It took me months to finish this book, but it wasn't the book's fault.
That said, if you want a well-researched, well-written introduction to the roots of the current turmoil in the Arab world, this is it. Despite the title, Lawrence in Arabia is not just about T. Lawrence, though Scott Anderson does an excellent job of illuminating Lawrence's political and personal motivations. Anderson instead explores the run-up to World War I and the war itself through the experiences of four mavericks "loose cannons" might be a more apt description. These four become our windows on, among other things, the thrashings of the dying Ottoman Empire, the diplomatic maneuverings of the British and the French, the internal tensions in the Zionist movement, the high-minded cluelessness of the Wilson administration, and, of course, the guerrilla war against the Turks that came to be known as the Arab Revolt.
The adventures and machinations of these colorful characters make for fascinating reading, but it's the non-mavericks, the firmly anchored cannons of empire, that win in the end. Lawrence saw what was coming as clearly as any westerner, but was helpless to prevent it.
Scott Anderson sketches the aftermath of Versailles so deftly that it's not hard to see the threads that connect that time to ours. I'm particularly struck by his description of the "particularly toxic seed" that was planted in those years: Ever since, Arab society has tended to define itself less by what it aspires to become than by what it is opposed to: This culture of opposition has been manipulated -- indeed, feverishly nurtured -- by generations of Arab dictators intent on channeling their people's anger away from their own misrule in favor of the external threat, whether it is "the great Satan" or the "illegitimate Zionist entity" or Western music playing on the streets of Cairo.
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The Demon's Curse Part Two: I would venture the opinion that its accuracy is top notch. The adventures and machinations of these colorful characters make for fascinating reading, but it's the non-mavericks, the firmly anchored cannons of empire, that win in the end. Kat rated it really liked it Aug 16, Nice story of two " young ones" coming of age, though there was a little too much "pride goeth before a fall" at first, that did work out in the end. And whether he was right or wrong, he may have been just as crazy as Hoover. The world is tainted with selfishness, hate and depravity.
Oct 26, Ram rated it really liked it Shelves: A few years ago I participated in a bike ride in Beer Sheva in the south of Israel. One of the points we stopped at, was the British Cemetery from WW1. This cemetery has British Empire soldiers buried in it. The leader of our group explained about the place and about the battles near Beer Sheva in WW1.
I was quite surprised. What… the Turkish army that stood against them actually had German officers? What … Beer Sheva was finally conquered by a cavalry charge? I suddenly noticed that I know very little about WW1 at all and the battles in the Middle East specifically. Lawrence in Arabia filled a big gap in my knowledge. I had heard bits of pieces of the events, especially the ones in Palestine.
This book gives an interesting account of the activities of T. A Lawrence of Arabia before, mainly during and after WW1. The book describes the reason and political interests for the WW1 activities in the Middle East and their effect on the war and on the future of the area. It is always interesting for me to read about my land from an outsider point of view and a much broader point of view. I have always been fascinated with Bedouins and spent considerable time with them on camel treks and in their villages in the Sinai dessert.
The descriptions and pictures of the Bedouins in this book showed me that they actually did not change much, and the same charm they had years ago in the desserts of Arabia still remained in my encounters with them of course the Bedouins I spent time with were not at war and did not kill anybody — I am talking about the tranquility, the hospitality and charm.
This book, with its amazing description of events, with its deep analysis of the political backgrounds, with its fascinating discussions of the personal points of view, with its rich scenery and its photographs really left me hungry for more information about WW1. Apr 13, Peter Mcloughlin rated it really liked it Shelves: The problem about with diplomacy is that the high level decision makers are at a remove from the people on the ground who often have a clearer idea of how to settle an issue of a distant land.
This book is about T. Lawrence who helped the Arab revolt against the Ottomans during the first world war. The ottomans sided against the allies during WWI and worked with the central powers. Lawrence who had a very good understanding of the area helped the Arabs in the middle east revolt against th The problem about with diplomacy is that the high level decision makers are at a remove from the people on the ground who often have a clearer idea of how to settle an issue of a distant land.
Lawrence who had a very good understanding of the area helped the Arabs in the middle east revolt against the Turks. He was very successful but when British authorities hammered out how to adjudicate the future of the area they botched it making for much of the turmoil for the rest of 20th century and to this day which wracks the region. The book is well written and can keep the readers interest. Jan 02, Stefan Bach rated it it was ok. Angleton was the leader of a tight group of in my estimation, paranoid "double-cross disciples" in the CIA.
Golitsin fed Angleton's determination obsession? He was revered and treated very well be the CIA. In later analysis both men were deemed actual defectors to the US and Nosenko "provided the CIA with at least as many confirmed leads to Soviet penetrations as Golitsin.
His single mindedness also ruined careers, intel collection and sources trying to hunt down his mole. OTOH, it was determined that his major accomplishment, "Harvey's Hole," was compromised from the beginning. A very expensive folly. So, in a nutshell, the CIA eventually gave up on Harvey and he descended into an alcoholic pariahdom, dead at Things are not what they seem in the world of clandestine ops and counterintel.
If you examine this stuff ad infinitum you can drive yourself crazy and doubt everything and everyone. The amount of misinformation that has appeared in print and then been elevated to history through constant repetition is appalling. Caveat lector, for sure. May 05, FiveBooks added it Shelves: It tells the story of James Angleton, the man in charge of counter-intelligence at the CIA, stopping people from infiltrating the organisation.
There was a Russian defector in the s, Anatoly Golitsyn, who went to the States and started talking and Angleton basically believed him when he said there was a mole Dr Michael S Goodman has chosen to discuss Wilderness of Mirrors by David C Martin on FiveBooks as one of the top five on his subject - Pioneers of Intelligence Gathering, saying that: There was a Russian defector in the s, Anatoly Golitsyn, who went to the States and started talking and Angleton basically believed him when he said there was a mole inside the CIA.
He tore the CIA apart looking for the mole and the question was: The full interview is available here: Sep 23, Nathan rated it really liked it Recommends it for: Well, probably not James Angleton fans. Wilderness of Mirrors was originally published in , then reprinted in Even in the last two years, new information comes out relating to the Golitsyn and Nosenko cases, and it remains difficult to tell from the perspective of a reader what the truth really was.
Edgar Hoover shaped the F. And whether he was right or wrong, he may have been just as crazy as Hoover. There's a reason as many fiction books have been written about Angleton as nonfiction books. This strange, anti-social, orchid-growing paranoiac nearly brought the CIA to a state of complete paralysis. Though the conclusions of this book may not be entirely accurate, it's worth reading to know how easily one or two eccentric people can cripple one of the organizations we trust with our national security. Jan 13, Boozy rated it really liked it Shelves: Wilderness of Mirrors is a fascinating read following the careers of two of the most famous or infamous Counterintelligence officers in the history of the CIA, Bill Harvey and James Angleton.
While Mr Harvey was rather brash and outspoken Mr Angleton was the exact opposite, very quiet and secretive. I would highly recommend this book for any individual that is a professional in the career field or anyone that would like to know more about the successes and unfortunately the pitfalls of the CI wo Wilderness of Mirrors is a fascinating read following the careers of two of the most famous or infamous Counterintelligence officers in the history of the CIA, Bill Harvey and James Angleton.
I would highly recommend this book for any individual that is a professional in the career field or anyone that would like to know more about the successes and unfortunately the pitfalls of the CI world. Not only to the people and or organizations one works with but to the individual looking. While most people would consider today's main focus to be terrorism the lessons learned from these two dyed in the wool Cold Warriors should not and can not be forgotten.
Aug 14, Bill Manzi rated it liked it. After reading the Macintyre book on Philby this seemed like a good follow up. Harvey was one of the first to develop the case against Philby ten years before he fled and was responsible for the bugging of the Soviet's underground cable in Berlin. Like Philby Harvey eventually became incapacitated by alcoholism.
Hard drinking spies are romanticized but the reality is that anyone who drinks After reading the Macintyre book on Philby this seemed like a good follow up. Hard drinking spies are romanticized but the reality is that anyone who drinks like Philby and Harvey must be incapacitated for long periods of time, even when not consuming.
Harvey's involvement in the plot to kill Castro Operation Mongoose and his direct connection to mobster Johnny Roselli, and some interesting tidbits on Harvey's relationship with RFK are covered, with the Castro plot and the possible Lee harvey Oswald connection to the KGB leading the book to Angleton. Angelton's handling of the Soviet defectors Golitsyn and then Nosenko created a decades old rift in the CIA which is still being debated today. Did a KGB misinformation campaign draw U.
The book ends up portraying both Angelton and Harvey badly, with some of the more ridiculous assertions made by Golitsyn that were being chased by Angelton highlighted. Over Land or Sea The Falklands - a hidden conflict. Nottinghamshire Children Tell Tales: The History on the Page: Strange Case of Dr. The Size of the Dog: The Tales of Averon Trilogy: The Fires of Eternity: The Demon's Curse Part One: A Whale in Paris: All in a Day's Work: Greek Letters, Volume One: Espana en la Busqueda de su Destino: Spain's Pursuit of Destiny: