A LIfe in Full

Lawrence Of Arabia: The Authorized Biography of T.E. LawrenceLawrence Of Arabia: The Authorized Biography of T.E. Lawrence by Jeremy Wilson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I suppose, that in one sense, one has to be really interested in T.E. Lawrence to enjoy all 915 pages of this massive biography; I am, and I did. For those interested in a contemporary history of the Revolt in the Desert, I would recommend Scott Anderson's excellent Lawrence in Arabia. This biography is devoted to Chapman/Lawrence/Ross/Shaw the man, from beginning to end, and is particularly interesting for its treatment of his later life and work during his post-war stints in the R.A.F. and the tank corps, a part of his life that is typically scanted. It was enough to make me decide to pick up copies of Lawrence's account of the his years in training at the R.A.F.-- the Mint -- and his translation of the Odyssey, generally acclaimed at the time, something to look forward to as the epic is a personal favorite (although I know know not a word of Greek -- perhaps in another life). One gets a sense not only of Lawrence's intellectual brilliance, but also of the profound trauma of the war -- from which he never really recovered -- and its deformation of his later life. Turning the last page leaves one with a sense of Aristotelian tragedy -- purgation through pity and terror.

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