The Conquering Hero
A new look at the colorful career of T. E. Lawrence reveals a troubled legacy
In the early chapters of Lawrence in Arabia—note the “in”—Scott Anderson describes how the young T. E. Lawrence reacted to the death of his brother. Though the book is named for the British intelligence officer who improbably led an Arab revolt against the Ottoman Turks during World War I, Anderson threads his expansive history with only a well-chosen few of his hero’s many personality quirks; he even resists the temptation to overquote Lawrence’s florid and funny 1922 autobiography Seven Pillars of Wisdom. Yet Lawrence’s curious cruelty to his mother gets considerable space, presumably because it tells us as much about the world in 1914 as it does about Lawrence.
The death of Lawrence’s brother Frank furnishes an especially revealing glimpse into how the well-known, high-Victorian Arabist dealt with a family
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