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Seven Pillars of Wisdom: A Triumph

4.01  ·  Rating details ·  6,722 ratings  ·  620 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…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
"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
...more
Brent
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.
Rebecca
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
...more
Richard
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 ...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 [] No
...more
Louisa
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 presents us with 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 ...more
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
...more
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
...more
Kelly
Jan 05, 2012 rated it liked it
Im going to first off state something very confusing. I really loved this book. I love T.E. Lawrence, I think hes an enigmatic, mysterious and overall heroic man... however, I didn't actually finish the book.

If you arent quite sure of who this man is, simply think back to that amazing, award winning movie, Lawrence of Arabia. Lawrences 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 Turks. More
...more
Nicole
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.
Annmarie
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 ...more
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 ...more
Alanpalmer
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 ...more
Charles  van Buren
Jul 13, 2019 rated it did not like it
Review of Kindle edition
Publication date: April 21, 2011
Language: English
ASIN: B004XMQ6J0

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 myself) call it great
...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
...more
karl
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 is ...more
Ron
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 eastsome of
...more
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,
...more
Louise
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.
Gayle
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
...more
Akiva
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
...more
Frederic
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 War...no 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
David
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
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
...more
Chris
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.
Julie Bozza
Wow. This book just delighted and astonished me, and I am so very glad that I finally gave it a try. I have been putting it off for decades; I suppose it seemed so formidable in size, and about a place and a people with whom I wasn't familiar. I should have trusted my sister's good taste and enthusiasm ages ago.

First and foremost, I fell in love with Lawrence's writing - and this was a man who feared he had no skill at writing. But his prose is clear and straightforward, deceptively simple -
...more
Ben De Bono
About halfway through David Lean's masterpiece, a British soldier yells at Lawrence across a canal, "Who are you?" It's a practical question in the context of the scene but anyone who's given the movie some thought will recognize it has much larger thematic implications. Lawrence of Arabia is fundamentally about exploring that issue. It's a question that Lean never answers or, perhaps more accurately, answers in a million different ways. No matter what you think about Lawrence, there's something ...more
Clif
Nov 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
During World War One, death was mechanized. The commoner and the scion were marched as a unit into the trenches then ordered over the top to be cut down by machine guns and artillery shells. It was a disassembly line of death.

But far away from Europe in the Arabian desert there was an entirely different and ancient form of warfare in which the individual was all, pride was on full display and acts of heroism were not only possible but sought out. This was war that would have been known in
...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, ...more
Faye
Beautifully written. I mean, BEAUTIFULLY. How Lawrence managed to write about such a brutal war with such brutal honesty and yet such BEAUTY is just... mind-blowing. His words paint such vivid pictures that I felt parched when he was without water in the desert, felt chills when he was freezing in the winter, and had to stop reading and clear my head for a few hours after the unflinching account of his brutalization for the sick enjoyment of the sadistic Bey at Deraa. It's an incredible story, ...more
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Lawrence of Arabia 6 39 Jul 10, 2017 08:54AM  
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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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