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Hero: The Life and Legend of Lawrence of Arabia

4.15 of 5 stars 4.15  ·  rating details  ·  1,324 ratings  ·  226 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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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 5 of 5 stars
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'
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
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
Michael Flanagan
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
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
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
Jenny Brown
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
An epic biography to complement the epic movie. Don't be intimidated by the page count. It's hard not to engage in hagiography when the life of Lawrence is told. What a complex and fascinating man!! Korda's book is truly fair and balanced and seems to be a homage to a childhood hero. He was both a Nelson and a Lady Diana of his time. I'd always been curious about what he did with his life after WWI and the accident that took him from the world so early. Korda delves into this chapter of Lawrence ...more
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
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
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
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
Nick McRae
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.
Chip Walter
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
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
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
Lianne Burwell
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
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
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
Kurtis Klein
Korda, Michael. Hero: The Life and Legend of Lawrence of Arabia. New York: Harper Perennial. 2011.

Hero was quite the excellent read and dove into the subject of T.E. Lawrence exceptionally well. It definitely does fulfill its purpose as a biography entailing Lawrence’s entire life. From other books I have read on this topic it is clear that the material covered is very accurate. Korda presents an impressive amount of research in this work, as evidenced by his extensive bibliography. Many of the
Jeff Kelleher
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
My version of this book was approximately seven hundred pages long, and it felt like it.
The writing wasn't overly verbose in style compared to some historical biographies, but at the same time, it wasn't simplistic, either. So even though it was a somewhat fast read, the sheer volume of writing created a daunting task.
The information in the first half of the book was the most interesting. That half of the book covered Lawrence's life from birth through WWI. I would honestly suggest that a casua
Kai Palchikoff
The acclaimed author of the New York Times bestseller Ike returns with a definitive new biography of the legendary British scholar, adventurer, soldier, and hero who became a myth in his lifetime__T. E. Lawrence, 'Lawrence of Arabia' Michael Korda's Hero is the story an epic life on a grand scale, a revealing, in-depth, and gripping biography of the extraordinary, mysterious, and dynamic Englishman whose daring exploits and romantic profile__including his sun-burnished blonde looks and flowing w ...more
Christopher Fox
There cannot be too many stars for this enthralling, engaging, captivating, exquisitely detailed, beautifully crafted biography of an engrossing figure. I cannot wax too poetic or at too great a length to express how I feel about this title. Korda is a linguistic artist of the first order, a researcher of immense scope and an insightful and sympathetic reviewer of humanity. I urge you, if you have any interest whatsoever in Lawrence, to read this book word to word and cover to cover. You too wil ...more
Catherine Thompson
Michael Korda's weighty tome on T. E. Lawrence is an even-handed examination of the hero's life and the legends that sprang up around him. Korda delves into history and gives readers a look at warfare in the desert in 1916-18; mostly what we read about the Great War is centred on Europe and the muddy trenches of Belgium and France, or what was going on in Russia at the time. Korda shows how Lawrence became the father of guerilla warfare, and developer of tactics that are used the world over toda ...more
This was an interesting book and very detailed look at the life of T.E. Lawrence. I did not agree with all of the author's analysis, but he still provided a fascinating and expansive account of Lawrence, his personality, his relationships, and activities. The book seems to try and make certain aspects of Lawrence's life interesting through the author's use of mirror-imaging or only describing what he can relate to, but misses the mark in a few places. Regardless, the book still gives a balanced ...more
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.
I love a good biography, and Hero filled the bill nicely. Korda has clearly done his research and admires his subject. I found the book balanced - Lawrence was a man of genius and courage - but he was also damaged. The author has kept this in his greatness and his weakness in perspective and has managed to demonstrate how his subject's weaknesses inform his strengths and vice versa.

What really captured me was the focus Korda has brought to the long-lasting consequences of Lawrence's leadership
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