Hero: The Life and Legend of Lawrence of Arabia
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Hero: The Life and Legend of Lawrence of Arabia

4.17 of 5 stars 4.17  ·  rating details  ·  913 ratings  ·  194 reviews
Michael Korda's Hero is the story of 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 blond, sun-burnished good looks and flowing white robes—made him an object of intense fascination, still famous the world over as "Lawrence of Arab...more
ebook, 800 pages
Published November 16th 2010 by HarperCollins e-books (first published 2010)
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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
Mike
Jan 13, 2012 Mike rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Mike by: aggie_mike2003@yahoo.com
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
'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...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
Jason
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...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
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
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
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
Stuart
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
Martha
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
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...more
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...more
Sarah
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
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
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
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.
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.
Saleena Davidson
This is an ENORMOUS book but I grabbed it because I have always wondered who exactly Lawrence of Arabia was and what he did that was so amazing......and now I know. Korda did an excellent job of showing Lawrence's life, his contributions and his complicated personality. It makes me wish I could've known Mr. Lawrence, and some of his ideas for how the "Arabian Peninsula" should've been divided and his passion for allowing the people to rule themselves instead of being carved into protectorates we...more
Scooter Chick
Adds nothing substantial to what has already been written about Lawrence.
Fran
Jul 10, 2014 Fran rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: WWI Historians, Middle East scholars, TE Lawrence fans
Recommended to Fran by: Book store find
Although it, like all the biographies before it,has some bias regarding Lawrence's motives and inner state of being, this author at least admits such.

By far, this is the most thorough and complete of the biographies as well. The author went to the trouble of extensive research to confirm or deny events in Lawrence's life using sources outside Lawrence's own writing as well as family interviews and personal correspondence. Of particular note is the fact that this biography utilized access to mate...more
Tim
Never having read a biography of T.E. Lawrence ("Lawrence of Arabia"), but having been fascinated by his part in the Arab revolt during W.W.I, I looked forward to reading this book. I was quite happy with it. The author, Michael Korda, has written several other successful books prior to this and it shows.

Many years ago, after seeing the movie when it was first released, I read Lawrence's own account of his part in the revolt - "Seven Pillars of Wisdom". It was a wonderful experience. Then, abou...more
Gayle
Lawrence of Arabia
I was 13 when David Lean's epic film "Lawrence of Arabia" debuted. I didn't actually see the film right away because I lived in a small town with no movie theater-only a drive-in where teens didn't actually watch the films. I really don't even remember when I saw the film first and, caring very little about world history at the time, I was not aware that T. E. Lawrence was a real person.

My love of history came much later when I lived for 3 years in Europe where history more or...more
Miles
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...more
Sweetwilliam
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
Sydney
I hurried to finish this book a few days ago, because I wanted to have read it before I saw the brief re-release of Lawrence of Arabia in theaters on October 4th. I already knew that the Lawrence in the movie and the real-life Lawrence were very different from each other, but I wanted to make a more accurate comparison. David Lean's movie is undoubtably a masterpiece and easily one of my Top 10, so it doesn't matter at all to me that it's not 100% historically accurate. That's not the point. The...more
Zohar - ManOfLaBook.com
“Hero: The Life and Legend of Lawrence of Arabia” by Michael Korda is a biography of Englishman Thomas Edward (T.E.) Lawrence better known by his nickname. The biography follows Lawrence from his birth to his early death.

T.E. Lawrence was the illegitimate son of an Irish landowner who ran off with the family governess, Sarah Lawrence. They settled in Oxford, England using her name and brought up five sons, Thomas Edward being the second. From the start his mother had a difficult time accepting t...more
K
When I was growing up I saw a movie that impressed me so much that some scenes are still vivid in my memory after all these years. Even then I wondered how much was fact and how much was fiction. After all, the main character seemed to be such an unbelievable hero. That 1962 movie was Lawrence of Arabia.

So when I saw a book by a well-known author on Lawrence of Arabia, aka T. E. Lawrence, I quickly grabbed it up to read. Now understand that the 700 page book was a little daunting in heft (that i...more
Marc Weitz
Few capture the imagination like Lawrence of Arabia. As the author notes, were he not a real person, you would have to invent him. Michael Korda’s excellent new biography skillfully whisks you along with Lawrence on his adventures and delves deeply into the life of this amazing, yet complex individual. Korda prefaces the book by defining who and what a hero is, seeking to return the definition to its ancient Greek origins. He complains bitterly that the word is thrown around loosely these days,...more
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