Hero: The Life and Legend of Lawrence of Arabia

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9780061712616: Hero: The Life and Legend of Lawrence of Arabia

From Michael Korda, author of the New York Times bestselling Eisenhower biography Ike and the captivating Battle of Britain book With Wings Like Eagles, comes the critically-acclaimed definitive biography of T. E. Lawrence—the legendary British soldier, strategist, scholar, and adventurer whose exploits as “Lawrence of Arabia” created a legacy of mythic proportions in his own lifetime. Many know T.E. Lawrence from David Lean’s Oscar-winning 1962 biopic—based, itself, upon Lawrence’s autobiographical Seven Pillars of Wisdom—but in the tradition of modern biographers like John Meacham, David McCullough, and Barbara Leaming, Michael Korda’s penetrating new examination reveals new depth and character in the twentieth century’s quintessential English hero.

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From the Back Cover:

Michael Korda's Hero is the story of an epic life on a grand scale: a revealing, in-depth, and gripping biography of the extraordinary, mysterious, and dynamic Englishman whose daring exploits and romantic profile—including his blond, sun-burnished good looks and flowing white robes—made him an object of intense fascination, still famous the world over as "Lawrence of Arabia."

An Oxford scholar and archaeologist, one of five illegitimate sons of a British aristocrat who ran away with his daughters' governess, Lawrence was sent to Cairo as a young intelligence officer in 1916. He vanished into the desert in 1917 only to emerge later as one of the greatest—and certainly most colorful—figures of World War One. Though a foreigner, he played a leading and courageous part in uniting the Arab tribes to defeat the Turks, and eventually capture Damascus, transforming himself into a world-famous hero, hailed as "the Uncrowned King of Arabia."

In illuminating Lawrence's achievements, Korda digs further than anyone before him to expose the flesh-and-blood man and his contradictory nature. Here was a born leader who was utterly fearless and seemingly impervious to pain, thirst, fatigue, and danger, yet who remained shy, sensitive, mod-est, and retiring; a hero who turned down every honor and decoration offered to him, and was racked by moral guilt and doubt; a scholar and an aesthete who was also a bold and ruthless warrior; a writer of genius—the author of Seven Pillars of Wisdom, one of the greatest books ever written about war—who was the virtual inventor of modern insurgency and guerrilla warfare; a man who at the same time sought and fled the limelight, and who found in friendships, with everyone from Winston Churchill to George Bernard and Charlotte Shaw, from Nancy Astor to Noël Coward, a substitute for sexual feelings that he rigorously—even brutally and systematically—repressed in himself.

As Korda shows in his brilliantly readable and formidably authoritative biography, Lawrence was not only a man of his times; he was a visionary whose accomplishments—farsighted diplomat and kingmaker, military strategist of genius, perhaps the first modern "media celebrity" (and one of the first victims of it), and an acclaimed writer—transcended his era.

Korda examines Lawrence's vision for the modern Middle East—plans that, had they been carried through, might have prevented the hatred and bloodshed that have become ubiquitous in the region. Ultimately, as this magisterial work demonstrates, Lawrence remains one of the most unique and fascinating figures of modern times, the arch-hero whose life is at once a triumph and a sacrifice and whose capacity to astonish still remains undimmed.

About the Author:

Michael Korda is the author of Ulysses S. Grant, Ike, Hero, and Charmed Lives. Educated at Le Rosey in Switzerland and at Magdalen College, Oxford, he served in the Royal Air Force. He took part in the Hungarian Revolution of 1956 and on its fiftieth anniversary was awarded the Order of Merit of the People's Republic of Hungary. He and his wife, Margaret, make their home in Dutchess County, New York.

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