Gertrude Bell: Queen of the Desert, Shaper of Nations

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Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Apr 1, 2010 - Biography & Autobiography - 512 pages

A marvelous tale of an adventurous life of great historical import

She has been called the female Lawrence of Arabia, which, while not inaccurate, fails to give Gertrude Bell her due. She was at one time the most powerful woman in the British Empire: a nation builder, the driving force behind the creation of modern-day Iraq. Born in 1868 into a world of privilege, Bell turned her back on Victorian society, choosing to read history at Oxford and going on to become an archaeologist, spy, Arabist, linguist, author (of Persian Pictures, The Desert and the Sown, and many other collections), poet, photographer, and legendary mountaineer (she took off her skirt and climbed the Alps in her underclothes).

She traveled the globe several times, but her passion was the desert, where she traveled with only her guns and her servants. Her vast knowledge of the region made her indispensable to the Cairo Intelligence Office of the British government during World War I. She advised the Viceroy of India; then, as an army major, she traveled to the front lines in Mesopotamia. There, she supported the creation of an autonomous Arab nation for Iraq, promoting and manipulating the election of King Faisal to the throne and helping to draw the borders of the fledgling state.

Gertrude Bell, vividly told and impeccably researched by Georgina Howell, is a richly compelling portrait of a woman who transcended the restrictions of her class and times, and in so doing, created a remarkable and enduring legacy.

" ... there’s never a dull moment in the peerless life of this trailblazing character." - Kirkus Reviews

 

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Loved the book and gaining the knowledge about this woman. It amazes me that such women as she are not heralded more often in the public institutions of learning.
Well written, informative, all around good read. Thanks

Contents

2 EDUCATION
28
3 THE CIVILIZED WOMAN
42
4 BECOMING A PERSON
60
5 MOUNTAINEERING
74
6 DESERT TRAVEL
94
7 DICK DOUGHTYWYLIE
127
8 LIMIT OF ENDURANCE
162
9 ESCAPE
194
13 ANGER
302
14 FAISAL
335
15 CORONATION
365
16 STAYING AND LEAVING
383
Chronology
421
Note on Money Values
433
Notes
435
Bibliography
453

10 WAR WORK
217
11 CAIRO DELHI BASRA
238
12 GOVERNMENT THROUGH GERTRUDE
274
Acknowledgements
461
Index
465
Copyright

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About the author (2010)

Georgina Howell has worked in magazine journalism since the age of seventeen. She has written for Vanity Fair and American Vogue, and has worked at The Observer, British Vogue, The Tatler, and The Sunday Times. She lives in London and Brittany.

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