Hero: The Life and Legend of Lawrence of Arabia Review

Hero: The Life and Legend of Lawrence of Arabia
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Hero: The Life and Legend of Lawrence of Arabia Review
We live in an age of celebrity as created by an immense media industry. Lawrence of Arabia embodied the word celebrity; in fact he may have been the 20th century's first real celebrity as Lindberg came after him. This book cries out to be read by a readership that understands that heroes do in fact exist. This word hero has been much misused in modern day America to apply to people that the word was never intended for. Lawrence was very much a hero, as well as many other things. He was a military genius on a level with Napoleon. He also possessed a genius for guerilla warfare and his techniques are taught at West Point as we speak. Possessing a talent for writing, his Seven Pillars of Wisdom is considered a literary masterpiece. His direct actions changed the entire map of the Middle East, and the inability of politicians to adjust to the realities of this region that Lawrence saw so vividly have led to the chaos that we see in the Middle East today. Sheikh Hamoud had it right when he wrote so many years ago of Lawrence:My heart was iron, but his was steel If you love great, gifted, writing on an immense topic describing a man that truly impacted and changed the world that he saw, than Michael Korda's biography of Lawrence of Arabia is for you. This is a 700 page narrative before footnotes and biography. The quality of the paper used in the book is fabulous, and this is due to Korda's lifetime in the publishing industry. The selection of the font and the feel of the book left nothing to chance. Korda thought through every aspect of this project and brought it off with flair, and panache. He is a master storyteller and he has demonstrated considerable scholarship in creating this page turner which is so sweeping in scope covering one of the giants of the 20th century. Here are just a few of the things you will learn about Lawrence of Arabia:*In his early 30's he translated Homer's The Odyssey which then became accepted as the classic account of Homer's work.*Why King George on Lawrence's untimely death in 1935 said his name will live in history?*He possessed a dazzling display of knowledge, almost Einstein like in the topics he could converse in. Lawrence never did anything halfway. If he was in, he was in all the way. *As a young man, an illegitimate son, along with 4 other brothers, he managed to do amazing things at Oxford. He studied and more importantly absorbed the works of every great military tactician including Admiral Mahan, and Creasy's 15 Decisive Battles of the World. Lawrence's own thesis, The Influence of the Crusades on European Military Architecture was recognized as an act of genius when he presented it. *Liddell Hart considered to be one of the truly eminent military writers of the 20th century compared Lawrence to Napoleon, and used the term Napoleon coined "le coup doeil de genie" which means quick glance of genius. What this describes is that Lawrence had the scarce ability to look at a map (remember he was also a master mapmaker) and immediately know where to attack based on a unique ability in a glance to know intuitively how to attack. This is still studied at West Point, and is very rare in generals throughout history. *If you want to know the depth of his influence on all who came after him, than consider this. Mao Zedong led a revolution in China based on his writings and theories. Ho Chi Minh forced the United States out of Viet Nam based on Lawrence's theories of guerilla war. I haven't even mentioned Castro and Che in Cuba using Lawrence as a blueprint for winning in Cuba. Lawrence is the original creator of the road side bomb we now see in Iraq and Afghanistan. He knew how to strike light, and disappear into the night. The term turn weakness into strength is his. *The story of the making of the David Lean movie, Lawrence of Arabia which was nominated for 10 Academy Awards, and won 7 is told here in a beautiful fashion. Only Sam Spiegel, the producer at Columbia Pictures could have gotten this movie done. You will learn how the part was first offered to Leslie Howard, Lawrence Olivier, and then Albert Finney, until settling on newcomer Peter O'Toole. In conclusion, if you love history and the grand expanse of extraordinary people doing extraordinary things then you are going to love this book. Lawrence was Hollywood handsome with a magnetic personality and charisma to match. His influence directly led to the creation of the modern Jordan, and the UAR (United Arab Republic). Iraq and Syria now owe their modern boundaries to Lawrence. Since the 1960's England has opened up its secret historical files on Lawrence. We now know that all the wild stories about Lawrence are true. It actually comes down to this. Lawrence did what he said he did, and even downplayed his own role in the affairs of which we know about. I promise you that if you begin reading this book, you will not put it down, and you will be transfixed by what a gifted writer like Korda can do with a legendary impactful figure like Lawrence of Arabia. Thank you for reading this review. Richard C. Stoyeck
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