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Seven Pillars of Wisdom: A Triumph

4.01 of 5 stars 4.01  ·  rating details  ·  3,557 ratings  ·  359 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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"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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
I have little to no interest in military tactics and strategy and only a limited generalist's view of The Great 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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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, ½ way through the book I downloaded and watched the 1962 movie of Lawrence of Arabia (which for a movie ...more
A.j. Bealing
Apr 09, 2012 A.j. Bealing rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  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
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
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.
Gave up at 3%. Too much vague waffle, not enough nitty gritty, or more precisely, none whatsoever.
Erik Graff
Dec 18, 2012 Erik Graff rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  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
Michael Burnam-fink
Nine-tenths of everything is teachable, but it is that last irrational tenth that is the test of genius; flashing like a kingfisher across a pool (with apologies for mangling the quote). T.E. Lawrence ws undoubtedly possessed of genius, that kind of madness which extended the British Empire across the globe in the absence of rational plans or mechanisms. In this book, a kind of modernist Illiad Lawrence writes about the creation of the Arab Revolt as a nearly perfect guerrilla war. He helped org ...more
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.
Fun to read the source material for the Peter O'Toole movie "Lawrence of Arabia," but if you want historical facts and analysis, check out Michael Asher's biography. A prose writer, our Lawrence is not. The best part of the book is his opening poem and sassy preface.
Daniel Hellspong
What a massive disappointment. Lawrence expounds on situations and incidents that do not inform the reader at all of the greater picture, there's no attempt to tie together things into a strategic or even a coherent whole. Apart from Faisal and Abdullah who he worships and despises respectively, there's no real characters in the book besides himself. Even key people like Allenby are glossed over and referred to only in relation to Lawrence's needs. There's no sense of momentum or consequences, i ...more
Ann Canann
I fell in love with Lawrence, or more accurately Peter O'Toole, fifty years ago from the film. "Lawrence of Arabia" has just now been re-digitized and newly released. All this time I have been meaning to get around to reading this beautifully written historic/memoir, especially as my beloved playwright, George Bernard Shaw called it "One of the Cheops Pyramids of literature and history. In 1978 I had a longer experience in the Sahara Desert than I had anticipated when I was caught up in the Ent ...more
Greg Deane
Thomas Edward Lawrence’s title, “Seven Pillars of Wisdom” had initially intended to write about seven great cities in the Middle East, taking his theme from Proverbs 9:1: ‘Wisdom hath builded her house, she hath hewn out her seven pillars.’ But having lost the first draft of his work, he recycled the title and his theme for his war memoirs. “Seven Pillars of Wisdom” is illustrated with a flow of vignettes of desert warfare as well as life among the desert tribes. It can often be as tedious as a ...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
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Strange summary/review 1 5 Mar 30, 2014 09:30PM  
Why 'Lawrence of Arabia' and not 'Seven Pillars of Wisdom' 5 37 Sep 11, 2013 07:49AM  
Lawrence of Arabia 1 13 May 14, 2013 01:04PM  
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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...
Revolt in the Desert The Mint (Modern Classics) Evolution of a Revolt The Selected Letters T.E. Lawrence: The Selected Letters

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“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.” 788 likes
“I loved you, so I drew these tides of men into my hands/and wrote my will across the sky in stars” 108 likes
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