Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Book Review: T. E. Lawrence

Around four months ago, I finished up this book by Malcolm Brown.  It's been around for a decade, and kinda wraps up the history of Lawrence of Arabia...in a tidy 150-page book that you can read in a weekend.

Most everyone who wants to write or tell the story of Lawrence....generally end it at the conclusion of World War I.  It's a great moment in history, when one man walks into a mess, develops a few simple strategies, and carries a rag-tag army onto winning a regional war.  Newspapers made great epics out of this simplistic moment of history.

Sadly, the British government came to some moment of realization that Lawrence was bigger than anything they'd ever seen, and regarded as a national hero.  The fear of him coming back to the UK....walking into politics....and changing Britain?  Well....they just couldn't allow him to go in that direction.

So Lawrence became a condemned man back in the UK.  The book gives some history over the last fifteen years of his life....dying in 1935 in a motorcycle accident.  There are several attempts by Lawrence to join back with the British military....using various different names, and each eventually was discovered.  On each occasion....he'd be let go.  The curious thing?  As much as the authority of power condemned him....he never left the UK.  He was British, pure and simple.

I give high marks to the book.  It's worthy of being read.  After it, you can watch the movie "Lawrence of Arabia" and have an appreciation of the man.  The book can be read over a long weekend, and connects the dots on history in the making.

Perhaps one day....someone will be bold enough to develop a movie which carries T. E. Lawrence from 1919 to 1935.  

The question I'm left with after reading the book?  If Lawrence had been left alone, and quietly maneuvered himself in the military....to eventually become a general, and was standing there in May of 1940 at Dunkirk, would history have been rewritten?  Would the allies (the French and British Army) under a General Lawrence....said "no" to the evacuation.....taken a bold maneuver, stepped around the Germans, and suddenly trapped Hitler's army?  Would a embarrassed Hitler have been replaced or fired?  Something, we shall never know.