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Hero: The Life and Legend of Lawrence of Arabia

4.14  ·  Rating Details ·  1,663 Ratings  ·  253 Reviews
From Michael Korda, author of the New York Times bestselling Eisenhower biography Ike and the captivating Battle of Britain book With Wings Like Eagles, comes the critically-acclaimed definitive biography of T. E. Lawrence—the legendary British soldier, strategist, scholar, and adventurer whose exploits as “Lawrence of Arabia” created a legacy of mythic proportions in his ...more
ebook, 800 pages
Published November 16th 2010 by HarperCollins e-books (first published 2010)
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(showing 1-30)
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Michael
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
...more
Larry
Dec 17, 2016 Larry rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Korda's life of Lawrence fits on the same shelf with those by Robert Graves, B. H. Liddell Hart, and (best of all) Jeremy Wilson. It's interesting to have read it while rereading Lawrence's own account, "Seven Pillars of Wisdom," and Hart's. F. Scott Fitzgerald once wrote, "Show me a hero and I'll show you a tragedy." It's more interesting to wonder what else Lawrence would have written about his efforts and disillusionment had he not had his famous fatal motorcycle accident. In any case, Korda' ...more
Michael
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
...more
'Aussie Rick'
Nov 29, 2011 'Aussie Rick' rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Jason
Dec 12, 2010 Jason rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 05, 2013 Michael Flanagan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Ron
Sep 12, 2014 Ron rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
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
...more
Arun Divakar
May 26, 2016 Arun Divakar rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Booknblues
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
...more
Chris
Nov 16, 2010 Chris rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
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
Jerome
May 22, 2012 Jerome rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Martha
Jun 22, 2011 Martha rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Sweetwilliam
Jul 24, 2011 Sweetwilliam rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Megan
Jun 16, 2014 Megan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 03, 2012 Chip Walter rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Ed Smiley
Apr 28, 2011 Ed Smiley rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Nick McRae
Jul 14, 2015 Nick McRae rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Nooilforpacifists
Lawrence of Arabia was Horatio Nelson on a camel--and this book tells the story simply and powerfully.
Lianne Burwell
Nov 24, 2011 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
...more
Stuart
Jul 26, 2011 Stuart rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Hannah
Jan 30, 2015 Hannah rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Sarah
Mar 08, 2011 Sarah rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Frederic
Dec 19, 2010 Frederic rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Wendy
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.
Johan
Apr 29, 2013 Johan rated it it was amazing
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.
April
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.
Scooter Chick
Adds nothing substantial to what has already been written about Lawrence.
Wes F
Dec 15, 2016 Wes F rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Finally finished up this biography on T.E. Lawrence (better known as "Lawrence of Arabia")--it's a long one. Since T.E. Lawrence passed off the scene due to a motorcycle accident--there have been some 100 biographies written about him. I think "Hero" is one of the better ones. It was very interesting to learn the details of his involvement in helping with the "Arab Revolt" that broke the power of the Ottoman Empire in the Middle East during WWI; this ended in the capture of Damascus by the weste ...more
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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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