It is nearly the end of the year. I am looking forward to posting my books of the year and recycling some content over a Christmas break so that I read some books I am looking forward to without as much pressure.
So I looked through the books I was currently reading and decided I just do not want to finish Hero: The Life and Legend of Lawrence of Arabia by Michael Korda.
It is not that TE Lawrence is not interesting. He is fascinating. And Korda tries (although not quite as successfully as I had hoped) to be a story telling biographer more like Laura Hillenbrand (Unbroken and Seabiscut) than monumental biographer like William Manchester’s three volume biography of Churchhill.
Korda starts with an exciting couple of battles during WWI and then goes back and gives us a brief look at his childhood. Returns to WWI and stays in WWI for a long time. I gave up the book when I had completed about 8 hours of 14 hours on audiobook.
Lawrence was certainly worth writing a book on. He absorbed languages, was a brilliant tactician, hated the loss of life, did many things that were considered simply impossible. He was an illegitimate son in a very class conscious Britain, but accomplish more before the war (and before he was 25) than most accomplish in a lifetime.
There are also the things that you would not know if all you know of him is the movie. One of the most horrific things that happened to Lawrence was his brutal beating and rape when he was captured by the Turks in WWI. Lawrence escaped and certainly suffered what we would now call PTSD both from the rape and from his general involvement in the war. For a man that did not like anyone to touch him prior to that point, it is amazing that most of Lawrences most famous battles were won after that point. It also amazing to think that at the end of the war, Lawrence was made a full Colonel and was barely 30.
The balance of trying to serve the British military, hold together the very tribal Arab groups and accomplish actual military goals was certainly demanding. Especially since Lawrence was well aware the the British has no intention to upholding their end of the agreements with the Arabs. So during the peace negotiations he was a advisor to Faisal’s delegation and then he bounced around with a variety of jobs. Advisor to Churchill, writer, actor, and then he rejoined the air force in 1923.
I actually stopped reading after the peace talks. But he is an interesting character. I just was not interested in the book.