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Seven Pillars of Wisdom: A Triumph

4.01  ·  Rating Details  ·  4,491 Ratings  ·  431 Reviews
Seven Pillars of Wisdom is the autobiographical account of the experiences of British soldier Thomas Edward Lawrence, while serving as liaison officer with rebels during the Arab Revolt against the Ottoman Turks of 1916-18. The title comes from Proverbs 9:1: "Wisdom hath builded her house, she hath hewn out her seven pillars" (KJV). Lawrence kept extensive notes throughout ...more
Paperback, Penguin Modern Classics, 699 pages
Published November 18th 1976 by Penguin Books (first published 1922)
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Julie Bozza I was faced with the same dilemma, and ended up deciding on the Penguin Modern Classics edition (9780141182766). It's readily available, looks nice,…moreI was faced with the same dilemma, and ended up deciding on the Penguin Modern Classics edition (9780141182766). It's readily available, looks nice, and seems very thorough in terms of text, front matter, and so on. I have to say I'm not an expert, though, and am coming to this fresh. Others with more experience might care to weigh in. (less)
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James
"All men dream, but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds, wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act on their dreams with open eyes, to make them possible."

The source of the title of T. E. Lawrence's masterpiece is the book of Proverbs:

"Wisdom hath builded a house: she hath hewn out her seven pillars." (Proverbs, 9:1)

This quotation is used as an evocative phrase for the title of a book that Law
...more
Brent
Apr 07, 2012 Brent rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well, I've been working on this one for a while. It is by turns majestic, tiresome, enigmatic, and written in the grand manner of the 19th Century. It is interesting to find the big moments of the film, "Lawrence of Arabia", almost made light of in his memoir. He seems to be vain about all the wrong things. I imagine he wasn't a very likable chap but you have to admit he did remarkable things, and I marvel at some of the writing here.
Richard
Jan 11, 2014 Richard rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Thomas Edward Lawrence's meticulously written account of his fascinating life during World War I is one of the literary treasures of the Twentieth Century. Lawrence had graduated with honors from Oxford University in 1910. He had a fascination with medieval history, and had traveled as a student to study Crusader castles in France and Syria the summer before his graduation. He worked professionally as an archaeologist in the Middle East until 1914, with extensive travel through the Ottoman Empir ...more
Rebecca
Jul 22, 2012 Rebecca rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: autobiography
I was deeply disappointed by this book, but it's possible that was my fault.

Lawrence somehow manages to be self-deprecating and completely arrogant at the same time, in a way that's startlingly oblivious. (At one point, he compares his book to Gibbon's Rise and Fall. Umm, no.) I had hoped that by the end of the book, I would understand both the history of the Arab Revolt during World War I and Lawrence the man better. I'm not sure I actually understand either one better than when I started.

One o
...more
زاهي رستم
يتحدث الكتاب عن الثورة العربية ضد تركيا العثمانية، وأول ما يستغرب تسميتها بالثورة العربية.. فحتى قائدها هو لورنس وليس الشريف حسين.. وهو ما صرح به لورنس في كتابه أكثر من مرة مباشرةً أو مواربة، مثل قوله في الصفحة 187: "... خولني أن أصبح في أقل من ستة شهور رجل الثقة التامة في سوريا. مما حملني على أن أقسم بيني وبين نفسي على أن أجعل من الثورة العربية أداةً تعمل لغاية ذاتية، أكثر منها خادمة لجيشنا البريطاني، وأخذت عهداً بأن أقودها، بأي ثمن، إلى النصر عل الرغم من انتهازية الدول الكبرى...". وطبعاً لم تك ...more
Hadrian
In bare terms, this is an autobiographical account of a British liaison officer and his adventures leading an Arab rebellion against the Turks. But there is much more than that. An account by a philosopher-traveler-soldier about war and adventure and heroism and all that.

It is a product of his time. And Lawrence does seem a bit patronizing about the Arabs and Turks. But in other times, he is astonishingly sensitive and well-attuned and insightful to their needs. How else could he have helped led
...more
Kelly
I’m going to first off state something very confusing. I really loved this book. I love T.E. Lawrence, I think he’s an enigmatic, mysterious and overall heroic man... however, I didn't actually finish the book.

If you aren’t quite sure of who this man is, simply think back to that amazing, award winning movie, “Lawrence of Arabia.” Lawrence’s main initiative in this book is to act as an intermediate between the rebel forces of Arabia and the English, who were organizing against the Ottoman Turk’s
...more
Alanpalmer
Oct 05, 2014 Alanpalmer rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
We all know about the film even if we have not seen it, or at least seen the end of it. But this is the story written bythe man himself. It tells the story of one of the forgotton parts of the First world War. Less famous than the Somme, Gallipoli and Jutland this is the story of an assault on the underbelly of the Ottoman Empire, how a British Army Officer united a rag tag group of nomadic Arabs and formed a fighting unit. It is fairly low on action scenes but does describe effective use of exp ...more
Steve Birchmore
This is the book that the film Lawrence of Arabia is loosely based upon. I say loosely, because after finishing the book I rented the film and watched it all the way through for the first time since I was a kid. It was only then that I realised that although the film is a magnificent piece of film-making, it is very inaccurate in places and often just simply wrong.

T.E. Lawrence was much more extraordinary and his achievements and much more astonishing even than the amazing portrayal of him in t
...more
Louisa
Since battles and warfare are not really my thing, I am amazed how much I enjoyed reading Seven Pillars of Wisdom. In this beautifully written memoir, Lawrence presents us with an honest account of his role in the Arab revolt, his hopes on making Damascus the capital of the Arabs, but also his doubts about the whole endeavor. I love how he blended in with the Arabs, learning their language and their customs, riding the camels in the Arab way, becoming one of them. That they loved him and accepte ...more
Brian Bethke
Jul 27, 2007 Brian Bethke rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is an amazing account of Lawrence's experiences in Arabia during WWI, and one of my favorite books of all time. His vivid and tireless description of the Arabs, the war and the desert combined with an intimate view into his moral struggles provides an unparalled kathartic read. His exhausting description can seem to get monotonous at times but whether intentional or not this style "works" for writing about the desert. It is not a "quick" read, but dreamy and wondering, and laden with fascin ...more
Maggie Emmett
I first read Thomas Edward Lawrence's meticulous account of his fascinating life during World War I when I was 11 years of age. It had a profound effect on me. I think it is a literary treasures of the Twentieth Century. The title is from the Book of Proverbs. It was a name bestowed he used to name a rock formation at Wadi Run (now located in Jordan) during the war.

Lawrence graduated with honors from Oxford University in 1910. He had a fascination with medieval history. He travelled,studied abnd
...more
Annmarie
Jun 01, 2013 Annmarie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I selected this book to read as part of the research I was doing on my novel. I had seen the film "Lawrence of Arabia" in the past and now wanted to mine the book for details I needed to know about life among the Bedouin in 1920. I had planned to only read the parts I needed for my novel, but ended up devouring the whole thing. Then I read it again, parsing out what had now become an intense interest in TE's psychology. I then retreated to a biography and selected John Mack's "A Prince of our Di ...more
Gayle
Jul 13, 2011 Gayle rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I couldn't possibly "review" this book with anything that has not already been said in the past eighty or ninety years so I'll just mention what makes it awesome for me.

Although I usually find detailed descriptions of settings and how characters appear on the outside boring and tend to skip over them a lot-think James Michener-T. E. Lawrence's descriptions of the places he went and characters that he met on his treks through the Middle East leave me wanting more. He states that he was a reluctan
...more
Frederic
Jan 23, 2011 Frederic rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have little to no interest in military tactics and strategy and only a limited generalist's view of The Great War...no interest,at all,in the topography,Flora@Fauna,Beduin(SIC)Customs of the early 20th Century...and only a superficial curiosity about "Lawrence of Arabia" of whom I was aware only as the subject of the film which I had found to be pretty but empty and totally incoherent politically and psychologically...obviously a minority opinion...but this book made all these subjects totally ...more
Ron
Feb 03, 2016 Ron rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, biography, ebook
“Wisdom has built her house; she has set up its seven pillars.” (Proverbs 9:1)

This eyewitness report of the Arab revolt against Turkish rule during World War One is exhaustive in scope and detail. Lawrence fills six hundred plus pages with details of who, what, where, why and even the weather. Much of it will only interest academics and students of war and rebellion. But hidden in all that dry, sandy strata are nuggets of wisdom about politics, war and irregular warfare in the middle east—some o
...more
David
Mar 22, 2013 David rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I bought this book when I was in High School, having just seen the movie version of Lawrence of Arabia. As a first person account, Lawrence freely chronicles his successes and failures. He even makes fun of himself at times, such as his harrowing experience of having a camel shot out from under him as he was charging a routed Turkish force prior to the attack on Akaba. It is only after the battle, having survived the fall from his beast that he realizes he has shot the poor creature in the back ...more
Akiva
Sep 28, 2012 Akiva rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is an incredible book. It starts out slow and it is quite long. After about the first half I was convinced I should have just gone to see Lawrence of Arabia again instead.

But from there it picks up. Not that the storytelling gets more gripping per se. Indeed, the whole thing is kind of choppy, in a "We did this and then we went here" sort of way. They spend a lot of time blowing up trains.

But the strangeness of Lawrence's situation and what it is doing to him comes though clearer and cleare
...more
karl
Jan 01, 2012 karl rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This classic autobiography of over 700 pages was written 90 years ago by Lawrence covering his 1916-18 WW-I campaign to help organize and use disparate Arab tribes as a supplementary weapon to the British against the Turks, who were aligned with the Germans. I enjoyed and hated the book. The enjoyment was, to put it simply, “I was exposed to and learned so much about so many things.” In fact, way through the book I downloaded and watched the 1962 movie of Lawrence of Arabia (which for a movie i ...more
A.j. Bealing
Apr 09, 2012 A.j. Bealing rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People planning to visit Jordan
I read Seven Pillars of Wisdom because I was going to Jordan. It was a tortuous read and I had to bribe myself to finish it. This is unfair on Lawrence so I should explain that I am a middle aged woman with zero interest in the strategies and tactics of warfare.

Lawrence's elephantine ego infuriated me, but without that he would never have achieved what he did. I guess it's a question of horses for courses, and some courses demand the elephantine ego.

Read it if you are interested in the minutia
...more
Nicole
That was hard to read (one star for that!). Lawrence describes every hill, tree and shrub, gives the name of every man he has met and depicts his clothes, the meal they shared and the jokes that were told. On top of that military theory, philosophy, ethics, and theology. Heavy stuff. What you also get: a better understanding for today's near and middle east conflicts, insight into the Arab soul, and a glimpse into the soul of a very complicated man. Five stars for this.
Xan
Aug 27, 2014 Xan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Mi primer encuentro con este libro fue a través del cine, con el cielo del desierto fundiéndose en los ojos azules de Peter O'Toole. Si hay pocas películas que estén al nivel del libro que adaptan esta es una de las que lo consiguen.

"Los Siete Pilares" es el relato autobiográfico de las aventuras de T. Lawrence en el desierto de Arabia durante la IGM. No es un relato imparcial porque fue escrito a modo de crónica oficial de los hechos de armas del Ejército Británico, y en muchos pasajes el auto
...more
Chris
Mar 20, 2010 Chris rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
5 stars for the awesome parts, 0 stars for the mind numbing parts.
I really wanted to love this book. I just hard a hard time getting through it. He is so descriptive and it makes you want to strangle him sometimes. But his story is a cool one. I have been meaning to read it for years. It gets good at about page 87 and then is on and off. Reading the last 200 pages is a genuine Herculean task.
Samy seddiq
هذا كتاب إستثنائي لتاريخ منطقة الجزيرة العربية والتحولات الهائلة التي حدثت فى تلك الفترة بسبب قيام الثورة العربية والتى كانت بالتزامن مع الحرب العالمية الأولي ،، الكتاب هو سيرة ذاتية للطابط والمستشرق الأنجليزي توماس إدوارد لورنس والشهير ب لورانس العرب الكتاب يقدم مسانده الظابط للشريف فيصل وهو الملك فيصل الذي حكم العراق فيما بعد وابن الشريف حسين الهاشمي ملك وحاكم الحجاز حتي قيام ابن سعودبتأسيس ما يعرف الأن بالسعودية ،، ما يميز الكتاب هو انه ليس سرد للأحداث والمعارك التي حدثت فقط لكنه يقدم رؤية شد ...more
Louise
Jun 24, 2013 Louise rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Gave up at 3%. Too much vague waffle, not enough nitty gritty, or more precisely, none whatsoever.
Rodrigo
Dec 26, 2015 Rodrigo rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
Not an easy book to read.Not much to do with the film, not much of an adventure text. It is a product of its time: so don't try to judge this man by current values. It doesn't make any sense at all. Lawrence is a product of an elite that does not exist anymore. An aristocracy once bred in Cambridge and Oxford of renaissance men interested in all subjects relevant to the human soul: from sociology to politics, to literature, all of them convinced with the obvious notion of british superiority as ...more
Julie Bozza
Wow. This book just delighted and astonished me, and I am so very glad that I finally gave it a try. I have been putting it off for decades; I suppose it seemed so formidable in size, and about a place and a people with whom I wasn't familiar. I should have trusted my sister's good taste and enthusiasm ages ago.

First and foremost, I fell in love with Lawrence's writing - and this was a man who feared he had no skill at writing. But his prose is clear and straightforward, deceptively simple - th
...more
Maria Grazia
Prima lettura ottobre 2008:
Geologia, antropologia, etnografia, sociologia, politica, arte della guerra, e molto, molto altro ancora sono gli ingredienti di questo magnifico libro, massimo esempio di epica moderna, che racconta la storia con l'afflato del miglior romanzo.
Lawrence, scrittore inestimabile, tiene incollati alla pagina sia che racconti le lunghe notti nel deserto, sia che descriva i protagonisti sia che espliciti i propri pensieri, dolori dubbi.
Libro altamente raccomandabile per chiu
...more
Erik Graff
Dec 18, 2012 Erik Graff rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Lawrence fans
Recommended to Erik by: no one
Shelves: biography
I picked this edition of Lawrence's war memoirs while helping Head Librarian Roth select from the books donated for the creation of Bridgman Michigan's first public library. Basically, my job was to go through the boxes and bags, separating the wheat from the chaff for Ms. Roth's review. This was clearly worth keeping, so I imagine there must have been more than one copy.

Whether I read Seven Pillars immediately that summer or during a subsequent one is uncertain. It was probably a later summer
...more
Alexis Hall
Lawrence fascinates me - arrogant, insecure, enigmatic, over-educated, introspective, homosexual, masochistic, vulnerable, completely messed up. Yep. Sounds like my type. So this book fascinates me too.

It's not the easiest read, at least for a dilettante like me, because there are sequences I find really compelling and absorbing, and long stretches of stuff I, well, don't. The prose style is beautiful but tends heavily towards the descriptive, I'm sure some would say purple. Though it's leavene
...more
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Lawrence of Arabia 2 20 Nov 29, 2015 12:46AM  
Strange summary/review 1 12 Mar 30, 2014 09:30PM  
Why 'Lawrence of Arabia' and not 'Seven Pillars of Wisdom' 5 46 Sep 11, 2013 07:49AM  
  • A Prince of Our Disorder: The Life of T.E. Lawrence
  • Hero: The Life and Legend of Lawrence of Arabia
  • Goodbye to All That
  • Travels in Arabia Deserta, Volume 1
  • The Journals
  • Defeat Into Victory: Battling Japan in Burma and India, 1942-1945
  • Captain Sir Richard Francis Burton
  • Travels Into the Interior of Africa
  • Lawrence Of Arabia: The Authorized Biography of T.E. Lawrence
  • The Sling and the Stone: On War in the 21st Century
  • The World Crisis, 1911-1918
  • Starlight and Storm
  • The White Nile
  • Setting the Desert on Fire: T. E. Lawrence and Britain's Secret War in Arabia, 1916-1918
  • Arabian Sands
  • A Savage War of Peace: Algeria, 1954-1962
  • The Army and Vietnam
  • The Face of Battle
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Born Thomas Edward Lawrence, and known professionally as T. E. Lawrence, though the world came to know him as Lawrence of Arabia. In 1922, Lawrence used the name John Hume Ross to enlist in the RAF; after being discovered and forced out, he took the name T. E. Shaw to join the Royal Tank Corps (1923). He was eventually let back into the RAF (1925).
More about T.E. Lawrence...

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“I loved you, so I drew these tides of men into my hands/and wrote my will across the sky in stars” 991 likes
“All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake up in the day to find it was vanity, but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible.” 980 likes
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