Setting the Desert on Fire: T. E. Lawrence and Britain’s Secret War in Arabia, 1916-1918 by James Barr
English |2007 |History| ePUB | 3.5 MB
British historian Barr re-examines World War I’s ‘Great Arab Revolt’ led by the legendary Lawrence of Arabia in this exhaustively researched and vividly narrated history. Thomas Edward Lawrence was a young British intelligence officer when he undertook to organize Arab resistance to the Ottoman Empire, a German ally. The Turkish (Ottoman) sultan was also the caliph—spiritual leader of Muslims worldwide—and the British feared that his call for jihad threatened their eastern empire. To secure Arab support against the Turks, the British offered them a hazy declaration of future independence. Led by Lawrence, an eccentric amateur who adopted the flowing robes of his desert allies, the Arabs began a guerrilla campaign against the Hijaz Railway, the Turks’ supply line between Damascus and Medina. Lawrence’s driving obsession was to capture Damascus and foil French ambitions in Syria. As the war in Europe was ending, the Arabs occupied Damascus and Lawrence installed an Arab government. Upon the war’s conclusion, Middle Eastern matters were peripheral. Britain then yielded Syria to France, denying Arab independence and initiating a new legacy, of increasingly bitter relations. Barr expertly navigates an intriguing landscape of shifting alliances and labyrinthine politics peopled with eccentric characters to demystify a fascinating legend.