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Hero: The Life and Legend of Lawrence of Arabia

4.15  ·  Rating Details ·  1,602 Ratings  ·  244 Reviews

T.E. Lawrence (1888-1935) first won fame for his writings and his participation in the British-sponsored Arab Revolt of WWI, but the adventurer known even in his day as "Lawrence of Arabia" is remembered today mostly as the subject of the 1962 film masterpiece based on his life. This splendid page-turner revitalizes this protean, enigmatic adventurer. That this colorful Br

Hardcover, 699 pages
Published November 16th 2010 by Harper (first published 2010)
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(showing 1-30 of 1,603)
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Very enjoyable read on T.E. Lawrence, with an emphasis on why he was a true hero in the classical sense. In his thoughtful, even handed approach, Korda demystifies his role in facilitating the Arab revolt of diverse tribes against the Turkish during World War 1 and the establishment of Iraq, Jordan, and Israel in the post-war division of the Ottoman Empire.

Korda addresses some of the negative viewpoints on Lawrence taken by other biographers and historians and does well to try to deflate the ps
Jan 13, 2012 Mike rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Mike by:
Masterpiece, magnum opus, tour de force, throw in every superlative you can find to describe an incredible story about an inspiring hero and tragic man! Of all the millions who fought in all the theaters of WWI, this man is probably the first and only one who comes to mind if asked to name someone from that conflict. This 5 Star biography of T.E. Lawrence, or Lawrence of Arabia will introduce you to someone you would want to meet, given the chance. If all you know about Lawrence is the David Lea ...more
Very enjoyable read on T.E. Lawrence, with an emphasis on why he was a true hero in the classical sense.

In his thoughtful, even handed approach, Korda demystifies his role in facilitating the Arab revolt of diverse tribes against the Turkish during World War 1 and the establishment of Iraq, Jordan, and Israel in the post-war division of the Ottoman Empire. Korda addresses some of the negative viewpoints on Lawrence taken by other biographers and historians and does well to try to deflate the ps
'Aussie Rick'
Jan 10, 2012 'Aussie Rick' rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ww1, middle-east
This is one of the best books that I have read covering the life & times of T.E. Lawrence - 'Lawrence of Arabia'. The author covers in great detail his activities in the Middle East during WW1 but also provides lots of interesting information about Lawrence before the War and what happened to him post WW1. In fact, the accounts of his pre and post war experiences are just as interesting as his activities during the War, maybe even more so.

I found the author was a joy to read and presented La
Dec 31, 2010 Jason rated it it was amazing
Having read most books on TEL (including Seven Pillars of Wisdom), I would have to say this is shaping up to be the best biography on TEL. Granted it starts off in a unique way, and is 700+ pages, but at page 220 I'm finding it hard to put down and one I don't want to end. Korda has uncovered information about TEL I didn't know before - why this has been missed in other biographies is beyond me. It adds to the TEL enigma. Korda's writing style is generally easy to read, however some sentences ca ...more
Jan 20, 2015 Ron rated it liked it
Shelves: maps, biography, ebook
Upwards of fifty biographies have been written about T. E. Lawrence (“of Arabia”). This is one of them. Why the author would undertake such an effort almost a century after the events which catapulted Lawrence to fame only he can tell. It’s not a bad biography, though its efforts to “balance” the record is unbalanced by the author’s many self- and family-referential comments.

Lawrence seems to have spent the first half of his life preparing to become a hero, was one for a couple years, then spent
Michael Flanagan
Dec 13, 2013 Michael Flanagan rated it really liked it
Shelves: history, biography
If you only read one book on the life of Lawrence of Arabia then this book should be the one. The author delivers a well-researched book that peels back the myths surrounding the man. It also gives us a great insight into the time and the world in which he lived.

Lawrence is one of those rare people that have played a big part of the world we live in. Korda covers a lot of issues that are still relevant today, especially concerning the Middle East. This book goes beyond the Lawrence of Arabia an
Arun Divakar
Jun 16, 2016 Arun Divakar rated it really liked it
Allow me to enumerate here the characteristic traits of a certain British gentleman :

•A crack shot with a rifle or a pistol
•A dedicated reader with a prodigious memory
•Has a brilliant command over multiple languages
•A gifted writer in English who has churned out multiple books, one of which was a best seller
•Competent at archaeology, architecture and structural drawings and
•Rides a motorcycle !

The last one was considered more of a superpower during the early 1900’s when this gentleman was alive
Jenny Brown
Jan 17, 2011 Jenny Brown rated it liked it
The second half of this book is far more interesting than the first, which is a shame because I came close to giving up through the first few chapters which told me far more about Lawrence's military action in taking Aqaba than I wanted to know. By the end of the book it became clearer why I might want to know those details, but Korda just dumps them on us without giving us the orientation that would put what he's telling us in perspective.

My other cavil with this book is that Korda is mostly re
Jan 18, 2016 Booknblues rated it really liked it
I really had no idea how riveting the story of T.E Lawrence’s life would be, when I picked up Michael Korda’s Hero; The Life and Legend of Lawrence of Arabia. Lawrence, was a complex man of extraordinary talents and Korda does well in presenting him as such.

T.E. Lawrence was an expert of medieval castles, and ancient pottery, an archaeologist, a military strategist, the leader of a force of Arabs who helped to turn the tide in World War I, a force and political strategist who helped to define th
Oct 29, 2012 Jerome rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
We live in an age of celebrity as created by an immense media industry. Lawrence of Arabia embodied the word celebrity; in fact he may have been the 20th century's first real celebrity as Lindberg came after him. This book cries out to be read by a readership that understands that heroes do in fact exist. This word hero has been much misused in modern day America to apply to people that the word was never intended for.

Lawrence was very much a hero, as well as many other things. He was a military
Aug 23, 2013 Martha rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, desert
Hero was satisfying, but not great. Through it I learned a great deal about and gained a greater appreciation for the man behind the legend of Lawrence of Arabia. Korda has done exhaustive research, and you certainly feel that it would be hard to find holes in his scholarship or arguments. This biography also benefits from having been written after so many documents both by and about Lawrence, both personal and political, had been released to the public.

Unsurprisingly, the book shines when Lawre
Jul 31, 2014 Megan rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
Unexpectedly compelling read. My family pointed out that while I was reading this, I mentioned Lawrence at least once a day. Korda does an excellent job of unpacking Lawrence's complexities, his excellent military strategy but also his anguish over the horrors of war; his extensive writing but also his desire to stay out of the limelight; his profound leadership capabilities and his choice to live the second half of his life as an Aircraftsman in the British RAF, in which he was in charge of nob ...more
Chip Walter
Feb 11, 2013 Chip Walter rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography
Wonderful book! Thoroughly researched life of an absolutely fascinating character. He was so extraordinarily different and strange that it's difficult to believe he wasn't invented. The parts of the book that deal with Lawrence's mideast campaign and heroics were fascinating, but Korda does an equally great job with the telling of his youth and post war life.

My only small issue is that the whole book is VERY pro Lawrence (as you might imagine from the title) and I sometimes worried that Korda w
Ed Smiley
Mar 01, 2013 Ed Smiley rated it it was amazing
Many people only know T.E. Lawrence through the movie, "Lawrence of Arabia".
It's an outstanding movie, and a grand entertainment, but there was much more to Lawrence.

Lawrence was an accomplished archaeologist, outstanding military strategist and tactician, charismatic leader, linguist, intelligence analyst, craftsman, excellent writer, who combined flamboyance with an utterly private persona and paradoxical reticence.
This is an outstanding biography of a man that you would have thought had had a
Nick McRae
Jul 21, 2015 Nick McRae rated it it was amazing
This book offers a great overview of T.E. Lawrence's life before, during, and most notably after his famous WWI exploits in Arabia. The book is a good complement to Lawrence's own masterwork SEVEN PILLARS OF WISDOM that both helps us interpret Lawrence's text and lets us see what happened in Lawrence's life after that book comes to a close. An excellent read for those interested in the beginnings of the modern Middle East and in Lawrence particularly.
Lianne Burwell
Aug 31, 2014 Lianne Burwell rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I like talking about books (hey, I'm on Goodreads, aren't I?). While reading this one, though, I was rather surprised at the number of people who thought that Lawrence of Arabia was a fictional character, not a historical figure.

Mind you, it shouldn't be too shocking. He was definitely larger than life. And even I didn't know a lot, since I had the impression that he'd died not that long after WWI, well before his actual death in 1935.

He was definitely a fascinating figure, though. Archaeologist
Jul 26, 2011 Stuart rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography
Hero: The Life and Legend of Lawrence of Arabia by Michael Korda. I very much enjoyed this book. Generally, all I knew of Lawrence was the film, so it was good to read a full biography. At first I was a little annoyed by the style in which it was written, which includes a lot of repetition. But I got over that, as I appreciated the author’s view of Lawrence as a whole – wartime leader, archaeologist, diplomat, and more. It would be easy to address only one aspect of his story – his wartime leade ...more
Pete daPixie
Peter O'Toole was my 'Lawrence of Arabia' prior to reading Korda's mammoth biography. The David Lean/Sam Spiegel movie portrays the daring exploits of the desert hero of WWI, between 1916 and 1918. The blond haired Englishman who united the disparate Arab tribes into a coherent guerrilla fighting force against the Turks. Michael Korda's 'Hero' documents the realities behind the silver screen legend and so much more.
'Hero-The Life and Legend of Lawrence of Arabia', published in 2011, is a seven h
Jul 26, 2011 Sweetwilliam rated it really liked it
Another must read. I was a fan of the movie Lawrence of Arabia so I had to read this book. This was for the most part an outstanding read with the exception of a few chapters that were used to explain Lawrence's early childhood and the end of his life - these chapters could have been condensed. The book explains the Balfour decleration and how France, Russia and England met in 1916 to decide how the rapidly declining Ottoman Empire would be divided up amongst the modern powers (Sykes-Picot). The ...more
Feb 09, 2015 Hannah rated it it was amazing
The book started slow, we were in the Middle East and the "Great War" as it would later be known was not going well. Enter a soldier named Lawrence who goes off by himself to learn about the people and geography of the area and win some battles. It was very glorious and confusing. I kept getting lost as to places and the battles all ran together (as I'm sure that they did for the soldiers).

After Lawrence established himself as a successful soldier, we flashback to his beginnings. I really got in
Apr 21, 2011 Sarah rated it it was amazing
Korda provides a remarkably detailed accounting and analysis of "The Life and Legend of Lawrence of Arabia." Lawrence (of Shaw, as he preferred to be called in later years) was a brilliant military and political strategist, scholar, and personally a very strange man. Having never read a book about T.E. Lawrence, I was unaware how precisely the issues and conflicts in today's Middle East stem from the post-WWI carve-up of the former Ottoman Empire from Iraq to Israel. So in addition to being an i ...more
Jan 07, 2011 Frederic rated it it was amazing
Hagiography?...yes,but it's easy to see why Korda so admires Lawrence...the complete soldier/scholar/Sui Generis-Observed of All Observers...I am not particularly interested in battles,strategy,tactics and the other details of WWI military campaigns and yet Korda makes them facinating...but,Lawrence,in all the admirable ambiguity of his character and behaviour is,naturally,the centre of this extensive(but never exhausting) biography...Korda may over-value some virtues and underplay some vices of ...more
Jun 11, 2013 Wendy rated it liked it
My biggest aggvation with this book was that the audio format was produced in such a way that the discs were not subdivided into chapter breaks which made it a real pain if I wanted to stop and start a disc mid-way through on a different player (which I frequently do). Other thatn that, the story was interesting.
May 16, 2013 Johan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the best biographies I've ever read. Highly recommended as it doesn't descend into a hagiography of T. E. Lawrence, but presents the man - yes, as a hero - with warts and all. Michael Korda is a brilliant biographer.
Mar 09, 2011 April added it
Shelves: tabled
Just started this tome!

After 100+ pages of this 700+ page, very exhaustive work on T.E.Lawrence, I was losing steam and interest. Glad I read as much as I did, however, other books are calling. Opted not to make any recommendation based on such a partial read.
Jul 08, 2014 Nooilforpacifists rated it it was amazing
Lawrence of Arabia was Horatio Nelson on a camel--and this book tells the story simply and powerfully.
Scooter Chick
Jan 01, 2014 Scooter Chick rated it liked it
Adds nothing substantial to what has already been written about Lawrence.
Feb 08, 2011 Miles added it
I've read perhaps five or six Lawrence of Arabia bios. Now I've lit on one called Hero
by Michael Korda, editor at Simon and Schuster. I didn't realize the title Hero was ironic until toward the end. Lawrence, it turns out, was a child who never grew up. He couldn't handle fame, he couldn't handle anything, once he'd become famous in an Arabian Nights Fairy Tale He created himself in the World War l Middle East. I'm beginning to see a pattern emerging here among many famous people like him, from
Jeff Kelleher
Apr 06, 2015 Jeff Kelleher rated it it was amazing
He hated to be touched.

David Lean's spectacular 1962 movie covers only two of Lawrence's 46 years, namely, the 1916-18 Arab revolt against the Turks that Lawrence was instrumental in advancing. Here, probably imagining that he would pull in the movie's fans, Korda puts those two years at the front of his biography. He then backtracks to fill in the 28 years before, and jumps forward to the 16 years after.

I think that decision was a mistake. Lawrence's actions in the war would have been more comp
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is an English-born writer and novelist who was editor-in-Chief of Simon & Schuster in New York City.
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“Even those who die in terrorist attacks, and have thus had the bad luck to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, are described as "heroes", though given a choice most of them would no doubt have preferred to be somewhere else when the blow was struck.” 0 likes
“Lawrence: A man who gives himself to the possession of aliens leads a Yahoo life. In my case my effort for these years to live in the dress of Arabs, and to imitate their mental foundation, quitted me of my English self, and let me look at the West and its conventions with new eyes, and destroyed it all for me. At the same time I could not sincerely take on the Arab skin: it was an affectation only.” 0 likes
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