T. E. Lawrence was one of the most charismatic characters of the First World War; a young archaeologist who fought with the Arabs and wrote an epic and very personal account of their revolt against the Turks in Seven Pillars of Wisdom. Yet this was not the first book to carry that iconic title. In 1914 the man who would become Lawrence of Arabia burnt the first Seven Pillars of Wisdom, a manuscript in which he described his adventures in the Middle East during the five years before the war. Anthony Sattin uncovers the story Lawrence wanted to conceal: the truth of his birth, his tortuous relationship with a dominant mother, his deep affection for an Arab boy, the intimate details of the extraordinary journeys he took through the region with which his name is forever connected and the personal reasons that drove him from being a student to becoming an archaeologist and a spy. Young Lawrence is the first book to focus on the story of T. E. Lawrence in his twenties, before the war, during the period he looked back on as his golden years. Using first-hand sources, museum records and Foreign Office documents, Sattin sets these adventures against the background of corrosive conflicts in Libya and the Balkans. He shows the simmering defiance of Arabs, Armenians and Kurds under Turkish domination, while uncovering the story of an exceptional young man searching for happiness, love and his place in the world until war changed his life forever.
This concise biography covers the formative years of a true 20th-century icon, from his childhood through to the outbreak of the First World War in 1914. Up to that point in his life, T E Lawrence had been steadily fulfilling his ambition to become an archaeologist. Even as a teenage schoolboy in Oxford he rode around the countryside on his bicycle taking brass rubbings in ancient churches and even persuaded local workmen to allow him to salvage antiques from city-centre excavations. Piecing together pieces of pottery led him to the Ashmolean where he met the curator D G Hogarth, who would effectively introduce Lawrence to the Levantine. Sattin’s book follows Lawrence on his trips to the Middle East, where his fascination for the region took such a hold that when war came between the British and Ottoman Empires there was no doubt where Lawrence’s destiny lay.
'Anthony Sattin knows a good story when he sees one. While most of Lawrence's biographers focus heavily on the war period, Sattin has grasped the importance of the years Lawrence spent in the Middle East beforehand, essential preparation for what followed. He has filled the ominous political background that Lawrence knew, but hardly mentioned in his letters home. As a travel writer enlarging on the writings of a forerunner, Sattin also often enriches Lawrence's account. I thoroughly enjoyed the result.'
- Jeremy Wilson, authorised Lawrence biographer
'Praise for Anthony Sattin's previous works .Anthony Sattin's study itself has a dreamlike quality ... he movingly reminds us of how, in the midst of life, those destined for greatness have no more idea where they are going than the rest of us.'
- Sunday Times
'It is a tribute to Sattin's knowledge of Egypt and his skill as a writer that he makes this counterpoint narrative seem so effortless. His protagonists circle without ever touching in a dance through the desert'
'Sattin has written a brilliantly assured experiment in biography, a triumph of the historical imagination. Convincingly researched, informed by an unobtrusive first-hand knowledge of Egyptian places, compellingly skilful in the writing, the whole story is illuminated by Anthony Sattin's delicately perceptive sense of character in action.'
- Literary Review
'Anthony Sattin has excelled himself.'
- Conde Nast Traveller
'Absorbing, highly readable and in places ironically humorous, a well-rounded and definitive study.'
- Martin Booth, Sunday Times
'An extraordinary panorama of adventure, scholarship, intellectual enterprise and ideological conviction, enlivened by frequent splashes of eccentricity and beautifully written throughout.'
'A marvellous and brilliant book'
- William Dalrymple, Spectator
Publication date: 09/10/2014
Publisher: John Murray Publishers Ltd an imprint of John Murray General Publishing Division
|Publication date:||9th October 2014|
|Publisher:||John Murray Publishers Ltd an imprint of John Murray General Publishing Division|
|Genres:||Biography / Autobiography,|
Anthony Sattin is a journalist, broadcaster and the author of several highly acclaimed books of history and travel including The Gates of Africa, Lifting the Veil and A Winter on the Nile. He is editorial advisor on Geographical Magazine, a contributing editor to Conde Nast Traveller and a fellow of the Royal Geographical Society. He lives in London and the Middle East.More About Anthony Sattin