Behind the Lawrence Legend

Behind the Lawrence Legend : The Forgotten Few Who Shaped the Arab Revolt

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T. E. Lawrence became world-famous as 'Lawrence of Arabia', after helping Sherif Hussein of Mecca gain independence from Turkey during the Arab Revolt of 1916-18. His achievements, however, would have been impossible without the unsung efforts of a forgotten band of fellow officers and spies. This groundbreaking account by Philip Walker interweaves the compelling stories of Colonel Cyril Wilson and a colourful supporting cast with the narrative of Lawrence and the
desert campaign. These men's lost tales provide a remarkable and fresh perspective on Lawrence and the Arab Revolt.

While Lawrence and others blew up trains in the desert, Wilson and his men carried out their shadowy intelligence and diplomatic work. His deputies rooted out anti-British jihadists who were trying to sabotage the revolt. Meanwhile, Lieutenant Lionel Gray, a cipher officer, provided a gateway into unknown aspects of the revolt through his previously unpublished photographs and eyewitness writings. Wilson's crucial influence underpinned all these missions and steadied the revolt on a number of
occasions when it could have collapsed. Without Wilson and his circle there would have been no 'Lawrence of Arabia'.

Yet Wilson's band mostly fell through the cracks of history into obscurity. "Behind the Lawrence Legend" reveals their vital impact and puts Lawrence's efforts into context, thus helping to set the record straight for one of the most beguiling and iconic characters of the twentieth century.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 320 pages
  • 161 x 242 x 23mm | 694g
  • Oxford, United Kingdom
  • English
  • Approx. 35 black & white illustrations
  • 0198802277
  • 9780198802273
  • 438,746

Table of contents

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Review Text

A fascinating and excellent read. Keith Simpson MP's Summer Reading List
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Review quote

After another round of books on T. E. Lawrence 'of Arabia' published on the war's centennial, it seems scarcely credible that anything new can be said on the subject. But Philip Walker has discovered an astonishing wealth of new material in private collections. The 'Forgotten Few' peers beneath the Lawrence legend to reveal the seamy underbelly of the Arab Revolt. * Sean McMeekin, Professor of History, Bard College, New York * An excellent and fascinating complement to Lawrence's Seven Pillars of Wisdom. It reveals the hidden stories of his brothers-in-arms and what they achieved during the Arab Revolt. * Lawrence James, English Historian and Writer * This excellent account of those who underpinned the fighters in the Arab Revolt reminds us of the hardships and challenges of war in early twentieth century Arabia. By looking behind the lines Walker shows us the real scale of Lawrence's achievement and the achievements of those who supported him. * Sir Mark Allen, ex-Foreign Service * A gripping account of the Arab Revolt as seen through the eyes of the men on the ground in Jidda. Walker has uncovered remarkable new documentation and photographs that shed valuable new light on the Great War in Arabia. An outstanding book for the centenary of the Revolt. * Eugene Rogan, Director of the Middle East Centre, St Antony's College, Oxford * Theres no doubt that in setting out to rescue Lawrence's colleagues from obscurity, Philip Walker has performed a valuable service... by the end [of the book], you want to give them all a clap. * John Preston, Daily Mail * An extremely welcome addition to the existing literature on the Arab Revolt in 1916-18. Exhaustively researched and colourfully written, it provides a nuanced and detailed sketch of the way the British assisted the Arab rebels, and brings to life a number of key actors whose roles have either been forgotten or obscured by the Lawrence legend. * Saul David, Telegraph * These men's lost tales provide a remarkable and fresh perspective on Lawrence and the Arab Revolt. * Eye Spy * Provide[s] a more richly detailed and nuanced background than we have had till now to the unfolding of one of the most colorful theaters of World War I. * Anthony Sattin, Wall Street Journal (Europe) * The meticulous research of the author... is evident on virtually every page. Walker has left almost no stone unturned. * Jacob Rosen-Koenigsbuch, Israeli Journal of Foreign Affairs * Peppered with previously unseen photographs, and written in readable prose that anchors us into rhythms of these men's daily, it is a must for anyone interested in the war Britain waged in the Middle East from 1916-18... Walker should be commended for an engaging and thoroughly researched account of the British men who underpinned Lawrence's romantic forays into the desert. * Jacob Norris, BBC History Magazine * [A] superb and genuinely original addition to the literature on Lawrence and the Arab Revolt... a compelling and exceptionally well-written narrative, the book is strongly recommended. * Neil Faulkner, Military History Monthly * Minutely researched... a worthy and thorough addition to the history of the Arab Revolt. * Literary Review * A fascinating and excellent read. * Keith Simpson MP's Summer Reading List *
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About Philip Walker

Philip Walker is an historian and a retired archaeologist who spent many years working for English Heritage. He has travelled in Libya, Palestine, Morocco, Xinjiang (the Muslim far west of China), and other parts of Central Asia. He lives in Cambridge and this is his first book.
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Rating details

10 ratings
4.5 out of 5 stars
5 60% (6)
4 30% (3)
3 10% (1)
2 0% (0)
1 0% (0)
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