Book Review: Lawrence of Arabia’s War by Neil Faulkner
Before you read the book
The Middle East map we see today was never the same before the first world war. It was the defeat of the Ottoman empire at the hands of the British empire that primarily shaped the borders of modern day Middle East.
Thomas Edward Lawrence, a British army officer, played a decisive role along with the Arab guerrilla fighters in the campaigns against the Ottoman installations east of Jordan. His central role in organizing the Arab rebellion against the Ottomans earned him international fame as Lawrence of Arabia.
Why read this book?
The author of the book has adopted a modern approach to understand this historical event. Not only archive sources were extensively consulted but also ground reconnaissance and satellite imagery were used to plot the sites of Lawrence’s campaigns. Some 30 archeologists worked in the fields for two weeks every autumn (2006-2014) and collected archaeological evidence related to the war.
The Ottomans were faced with a two front war scenario. One, a conventional mechanised warfare against the British west of Jordan. The other, camel mounted guerrilla warfare lead by T.E Lawrence east of Jordan. The book presents a symbiotic relationship between the two war fronts. Thus, it enables its readers to comprehend the totality of the first world war in the middle east.
The first few chapters of the book gives us an insight into the context of war in the middle east. It then delves into the political and military state of affairs of the Ottoman Empire during the first world war. The major portion of the book narrates the military campaigns of the two front war. Lawrence remains the central character of the book and the author has also taken his account of the conflict.
About the author
Dr Neil Faulkner is an archeologist, historian , writer and a lecturer. He is also a research fellow at the University of Bristol and the editor of Military History Monthly. He has authored ten books and appeared in various TV programs including BBC2’s Timewatch and Sky Atlantic’s The British.