Seven Pillars of Wisdom

Front Cover
Penguin Adult, Mar 30, 2000 - Biography & Autobiography - 712 pages
221 Reviews
Seven Pillars of Wisdom is the autobiographical account of T.E. Lawrence - also known as 'Lawrence of Arabia' - of his service in the Arab Revolt during the First World War, published in Penguin Modern Classics. Although 'continually and bitterly ashamed' that the Arabs had risen in revolt against the Turks as a result of fraudulent British promises of self-rule, Lawrence led them in a triumphant campaign which revolutionized the art of war. Seven Pillars of Wisdom recreates epic events with extraordinary vividness. In the words of E. M. Forster, 'Round this tent-pole of a military chronicle, Lawrence has hung an unexampled fabric of portraits, descriptions, philosophies, emotions, adventures, dreams'. However flawed, T.E. Lawrence is one of the twentieth century's most fascinating figures. This is the greatest monument to his character and achievements, and formed the basis for the Oscar-winning film Lawrence of Arabia, staring Peter O'Toole and Alec Guinness. This edition includes maps, drawings by Eric Kennington, and index of place names and a preface by A.W. Lawrence. Thomas Edward Lawrence (1888-1935) was born in Wales and educated at Jesus and Magdalen Colleges, Oxford. He was commissioned on the outbreak of the First World War and in 1917 was officially attached to the staff of the Hejaz expeditionary force, under General Wingate. After the war, Lawrence was Advisor on Arab Affairs in the Middle Eastern Division of the Colonial Office. In 1927, embarrassed with the 'Lawrence of Arabia' legend, he changed his name by deed poll to Shaw'. In addition to this book, of which Lawrence lost almost the whole manuscript at Reading station in 1919, he wrote Revolt in the Desert (1927) and The Odyssey of Homer (1935), a translation in prose. If you enjoyed Lawrence of Arabia, you might also like Wilfred Thesiger's Desert Sands, available in Penguin Classics. 'I am not much of a hero-worshipper, but I could have followed T.E. Lawrence over the edge of the world' John Buchan, author of The Thirty-Nine Steps

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A prose writer, our Lawrence is not. - Goodreads
That was hard to read (one star for that!). - Goodreads
Solid insights into a wonderfully complex man and time. - Goodreads
Not that the storytelling gets more gripping per se. - Goodreads
Some of Lawrence's prose is a little hard to follow. - Goodreads
great insight on the Middle Eastern mindset. - Goodreads

Review: Seven Pillars of Wisdom: A Triumph (The Authorized Doubleday/Doran Edition)

User Review  - Wewib - Goodreads

An interesting book, well written though it drags a bit at times. This is not a light read, but it is very interesting from a cultural and historical perspective. Lawrence shows you what it really is ... Read full review

Review: Seven Pillars of Wisdom: A Triumph (The Authorized Doubleday/Doran Edition)

User Review  - Carolina Courtland - Goodreads

I thought this was an extremely difficult read. The author assumes everyone knows what he knows and writes accordingly. It starts with him dropping us off somewhere in the middle with no intro to the ... Read full review

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About the author (2000)

Born in Caernarvonshire in North Wales and educated at Oxford University, T. E. Lawrence was a soldier, author, archaeologist, traveler, and translator. After participating in archaeological expeditions in the Middle East from 1911 to 1914, he worked for British Army intelligence in North Africa during World War I. In 1916 he joined the Arab revolt against the Turks and became known as Lawrence of Arabia, the man who freed the Arabs from Turkish rule. The manuscript of his The Seven Pillars of Wisdom (1926) was lost when it had been two-thirds finished, and he rewrote the book from memory in 1919. Because it expressed certain personal and political opinions that Lawrence did not wish to publicize, it was offered for sale in 1926 in England at a prohibitive price. To ensure copyright in the United States, it was reprinted here by Doran (now Doubleday) and 10 copies were offered for sale at $20,000 each, a price "high enough to prevent their ever being sold." Doubleday then brought out a limited edition and a trade edition, substantially the same as the rare 1926 edition.Revolt in the Desert (1927) is an abridgment of The Seven Pillars, which the author made to pay the printing expenses of the original. The Mint (1955), an account of his service with the Royal Air Force, was published posthumously in an edition of 50 copies, 10 of which were offered for sale at a price of $500,000 each, to ensure no copies being sold. In 1950 a popular edition, in 1955 a limited edition, and in 1963 a paperback edition were published. After World War I, Lawrence enlisted in the Royal Air Force as Private John Hume Ross; when his real identity was discovered, he transferred to the Royal Tank Corps under the name T. E. Shaw, a name he legally assumed in 1927. In 1937 Lawrence was killed when the motorbike given to him by George Bernard Shaw (see Vol. 1) went out of control on an English country lane. Earlier biographers, including Lowell Thomas and Robert Graves, were enthusiastic and laudatory of Lawrence. Twenty years after his death, Richard Aldington wrote Lawrence of Arabia: A Biographical Enquiry, which "set off a fury of charge and countercharge." But Lawrence's saga had become legend. In tribute to this adventurous, enigmatic genius, who shunned fame, wealth, and power, King George V wrote, "His name will live in history." Public interest in "the elusive, mysterious and complex young Irishman" who led the Arab revolt was revived by Lawrence of Arabia, 1962's most honored film. In recent years the picture of Lawrence has changed again with the revelation of his illegitimacy, his readiness to embroider the truth, and other quirks and neuroses; but there were English witnesses to many of his accomplishments, and the disagreements among those who knew him have hindered efforts to discredit him in any definitive manner; even the Arabs view him with their Arab pride at stake. He remains enigmatic and eccentric, and is likely to be the subject of more research and many volumes before the truth about him is finally and fully understood.

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