T.E. Lawrence

Biography of a Broken Hero


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About the Book

Lawrence of Arabia, as adviser to Prince Feisal, led camel-riding Bedouin in a guerrilla war against Turkey from Arabia to Damascus. The great British hero of World War I, he helped Winston Churchill draw the map of the modern Middle East, creating Jordan and making Feisal king of Iraq. Then, in 1922, he shed the rank of colonel and his name to serve as a private in the Royal Air Force until shortly before his death in 1935 at age 46. Lawrence has been characterized as a man with extraordinary powers and as an imposter who manufactured his own legend.
This careful study, based on virtually all published and unpublished English-language sources, sides neither with Lawrence’s eulogists nor with his denigrators. Presenting a fair, balanced picture of his life, it shows the lifelong continuity of his puzzling conduct: the often needless deviousness that troubled even close friends; the self-hatred and savage masochism that cursed his adult years.

About the Author(s)

The late Harold Orlans contributed to Minerva, The American Scholar, Change, Biography, and The Journal of the T.E. Lawrence Society, and was the editor of Lawrence of Arabia, Strange Man of Letters, of which a reviewer said that he has “shown us…, better than in all the biographies, the pulsing heart of Lawrence.” He lived in Bethesda, Maryland.

Bibliographic Details

Harold Orlans
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 293
Bibliographic Info: photos, maps, chronology, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2002
pISBN: 978-0-7864-1307-2
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments      vii

Introduction     1

Chronology of Lawrence’s Life      5

Prologue: A Rocket Flared and Fell     7


1 Childhood and Youth (1888–1907)     11

2 College and the East (1908–1914)     15

3 War (1914–1918)     25

4 Undiplomatic Battles (1918–1922)     41

5 In and Out of the RAF (1922)     54

6 The Tank Corps (1923–1925)     61

7 Back in the RAF (1925–1926)     69

8 India (1927–1928)     74

9 Seas and Shores (1929–1935)     86

10 The Last Twelve Weeks (1935)     100


11 Body and Appearance     111

12 Eating and Living Habits     118

13 Possessions and Finances     122

14 Parents     136

15 Brothers     146

16 Friends     160

17 Illegitimacy and Pseudonyms     177

18 Sociable and Solitary     186

19 Political Outlook     195

20 “My Name Is Legion”     202

21 Masochism and Sexuality     218


22 Summing Up     233

Notes     243

Bibliography     269

Index     275

Book Reviews & Awards

“this well-written book provides an excellent summary of Lawrence’s life”—Catholic Library World; “superior…meticulous research, clarity of writing…intellectually honest and balanced conclusions”—Military Heritage; “Closes a process of demystification and addresses squarely the darker struggles of Lawrence’s life.”—Claire Keith.