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Hero: The Life and Legend of Lawrence of Arabia by Micheal Korda (2011). I listened to this thoughtful, even-handed biography on @audible_books whilst driving; odd hours here and there over a couple of months – a total of 14 hours during which I can honestly say my attention never wavered (and if it did for reasons for road safety I just rewound 30 seconds). This commitment is attributable in almost equal measure to the eloquence of the author’s prose and the quality of the reader’s delivery; calm, measured and unemotional – almost deadpan – be it the Battle of Aqaba, the Paris Peace Conference or TE’s penchant for flagellation (yep, it’s all here). Prior to this book, my study of Lawrence was limited to Peter O’Toole flouncing around the desert in 1962 and, perversely, a mean little biography by Richard Aldington (which probably said more about this bitter #GreatWar poet and Modernist writer than it did about Lawrence). Hero more than addresses the deficit in my knowledge of Lawrence’s life and understanding of his complex and often contradictory character. Here’s just three of the many surprises for this ignoramus: (1) The skill, audacity and enormity of Lawrence’s involvement in Arabic affairs during #WW1; a legacy that continues to this day. (2) The richness of his life after the War: his skill as a writer (his analysis of the techniques of guerrilla warfare continue to inform operational thinking); lasting friendships with people from Churchill and Nancy Astor to fellow airmen and their families (having anonymously joined the ranks of the RAF); his consummate mechanical skill including leading on the development of modern speed boats for the Navy. (3) His status as the first international media celebrity; press harassment, telescopic lens, car chases – and years of conspiracy theories following his death (aged 46) in a motorcycle accident, leading to inevitable comparisons with press treatment of Princess Diana. #amreading #amresearchingformynovel #history #LawrenceofArabia #TELawrence #bookstagram
Hannah Hulme Hunter
Writer of literary historical fiction set in the Great War (First World War). Revising my first book, writing the next, seeking representation. Mountaineer, gardener, traveller, off-road runner. Africa, modern history, coffee, roses, and unrealistic romance. NHS midwife in a former life.