LAWRENCE OF ARABIA: A Triumph by Robert Payne


Email this review


That T. E. Lawrence, the English archaeologist who inspired and directed the Arab revolt against the Ottoman Empire, still comands prime review space and brisk library demand is due in large part to secondary factors--the eccentricity of his parents, the oddities of his own behavior, the merits attributed to his Seven Pillars of Wisdom by GBS, Robert Graves, and countless others, and the (then, at least) glamour of Bedouin life and apparel. Payne's account for the general reader is romantic and realistic by turns. Lawrence is ""audacious as a Viking chieftain"" but observes that his Arabs ""will fight to the death for loot but not for an ideal."" The book is a professional job of writing; it easily holds the attention; the reader always knows where he is and the pace never flags. But it is a bit like rereading The Prisoner of Zenda: our blood no longer stirs to the same music. Serious readers will prefer John E. Mack's recent Prince of Our Disorder, which has the plus of using original sources and interviews with survivors, and drawing its own conclusions.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1976
Publisher: Dial