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Seven Pillars of Wisdom: A Triumph

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  9,253 ratings  ·  687 reviews
Seven Pillars of Wisdom is an unusual and rich work. It encompasses an account of the Arab Revolt against the Turks during the First World War alongside general Middle Eastern and military history, politics, adventure and drama. It is also a memoir of the soldier known as 'Lawrence of Arabia'.Lawrence is a fascinating and controversial figure and his talent as a vivid and ...more
Paperback, 784 pages
Published June 1st 1991 by Anchor (first published 1922)
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CSWEIGANDT I really enjoyed the 1926 edition that can be found in some of the old books, bookstores. It is large, like an old Sears catalog, but lots of illustra…moreI really enjoyed the 1926 edition that can be found in some of the old books, bookstores. It is large, like an old Sears catalog, but lots of illustrations.

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James Henderson
"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
Jan 21, 2009 rated it really liked it
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. ...more
Jul 22, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: autobiography
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
Charles  van Buren
Jul 13, 2019 rated it did not like it
Poor edition of a 5 star book

Review of Kindle edition
Publication date: April 21, 2011
Language: English

This review is for SEVEN PILLARS of WISDOM [Illustrated with Working TOC], released April 21, 2011, 592 pages. These remarks apply to that edition only. The description contains its own warning as to what to expect. "Some language has been Americanized for better comprehension." It has been recognized that this book is literature, not completely accurate history. Some (including
Sep 23, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
John Farebrother
Jul 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I've read this book twice now, and seen the film countless times. When a colleague once asked me which was my favourite war film, I didn't need to think about it for long.
But as is usually the case, the book blows the film away. For detail of the inside story of the war in the East, description of life with the Arabs in the desert, and sheer adventure, it's unparalleled. It is also directly relevant to our day, for as TE Lawrence wrote:

"We could see that a new factor was needed in the East […] N
Mar 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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 gave us 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 accepted him as ...more
Jan 05, 2012 rated it liked it
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
aPriL does feral sometimes
'Seven Pillars of Wisdom' by Thomas Edward Lawrence is a memoir of observations about World War I by Lawrence who worked in Syria and Palestine - Arabia - from 1914 to 1918.

Lawrence is considered a hero by most, and in my opinion, deservedly so. Some critics think he inflated his part in some events; others believe subsequent publicity after the publication of his memoir (several versions were published) inflated his participation. None of this backseat whinging changes the fact being in a war i
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
Jun 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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. ...more
Michael Perkins
Jul 28, 2013 rated it really liked it
From a review I wrote of a different book....

At the end of November 1918, a dark, handsome young man who claimed, with some justification, to speak for the Arabs boarded a British warship in Beirut bound for Marseille and the Paris Peace Conference. Feisal, descendant of the Prophet and member of the ancient Hashemite clan, was clever, determined and very ambitious. He was also dazzling. he was everyone’s image of what a noble desert Arab should be.

“He suggested the calmness and peace of the des
Michael O'Brien
Dec 12, 2012 rated it liked it
It was an interesting account by Lawrence of his experiences organizing and advising the Arab revolt against the Turks during World War 1. Some of the details on the movements geographically of Lawrence's forces are hard to follow, and could have been better explained if maps showing the various place names had been throughout the text. Some of Lawrence's prose is a little hard to follow. However, if you are a history buff as I am, then you will enjoy this book.

Several people come off, I think,
Brian Bethke
Jul 27, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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
Jun 13, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Gave up at 3%. Too much vague waffle, not enough nitty gritty, or more precisely, none whatsoever.
Sep 25, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Maggie Emmett
Nov 16, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Jan 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Jan 09, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, biography, ebook
“Wisdom has built her house; she has set up its seven pillars.” (Proverbs 9:1)

This eyewitness report of the Arab revolt against Turkish rule during World War One is exhaustive in scope and detail. Lawrence fills six hundred plus pages with details of who, what, where, why and even the weather. Much of it will only interest academics and students of war and rebellion. But hidden in all that dry, sandy strata are nuggets of wisdom about politics, war and irregular warfare in the middle east—some o
Jun 15, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reviewed
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 read this longer ago than I care to remember and still it burns within me. It's an incredible book written by an enigmatically fascinating man. The opening paragraph (which I leave you to google at your leisure) is one of my favourites in all of literature, of any genre. I urge everyone, anyone, to read it. ...more
Daniel H
May 16, 2014 rated it did not like it
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
Sep 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Jan 07, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Sep 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Vicky Hunt
Nov 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Travel, camel patrols, Bedouins, combat, political intrigue, trains & explosives, and exploding trains; Lawrence’s book is full of adventure. It is a large work and takes quite some time to read, even reading the pruned later editions. But, it is neither the adventures, nor the length of the book that makes it so well known and loved, but the fact that Lawrence is a natural-born storyteller. His choice of words can be beautiful and flowing, and yet at times becomes so enmeshed in the details of ...more
A.j. Bealing
Apr 08, 2012 rated it liked it
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
Feb 27, 2010 rated it liked it
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.
Jun 05, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
Finally, finally got around to reading this book. I wanted to ever since I first saw the film almost 20 years ago. It is a remarkable story told in much detail - and in very beautiful language. I'm not much interested in the strategic details, but I found Lawrence's descriptions of his own thought processes and his personal journal enlightening and somewhat inspiring.
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Why 'Lawrence of Arabia' and not 'Seven Pillars of Wisdom' 5 76 Sep 11, 2013 07:49AM  

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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).

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