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A Prince of Our Disorder: The Life of T.E. Lawrence

4.17  ·  Rating details ·  339 ratings  ·  21 reviews
First published in 1976, John Mack's Pulitzer Prize-winning biography humanely and objectively explores the relationship between T.E. Lawrence's inner life and his historically significant actions. Extensive research provides the basis for Mack's sensitive investigation of the psychological dimensions of Lawrence's personality and with the history, sociology, and politics ...more
Paperback, 624 pages
Published April 1st 1998 by Harvard University Press (first published July 28th 1976)
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4.17  · 
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 ·  339 ratings  ·  21 reviews

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Apr 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
A little too much psychiatry and too little history for my taste, but I suppose I should have read the author's blurb that John Mack was a professor of psychiatry at Harvard. Most books about Lawrence focus - rightly - on the 2 years he spent leading the Arab Revolt but there was obviously much more to the man than that. Scholar, archaeologist, diplomat, warrior, author and a small boat expert! He was also much loved and admired by almost everyone who came in contact with him professionally and ...more
Trish Lewis
Jan 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Most people say they discovered T.E. Lawrence because of the 1962 film, LAWRENCE OF ARABIA. For me, it was A PRINCE OF OUR DISORDER - "...John Mack's Pulitzer Prize-winning biography humanely and objectively explores the relationship between T.E. Lawrence's inner life and his historically significant actions."

After that, my usual obsessive nature kicked in and I had to know more about this amazing individual. TEL and the many lives he touched and who touched his, the events he lived through and
Apr 27, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
This is the first "psychological biography" that I've ever read, and I'm conflicted about the value of such books. While Mack, whose book won the Pulitzer Prize, leaves no stone unturned in revealing Lawrence's unconscious motives, his narrow focus leaves little room for the creativity and ingenuity of the conscious mind, or the powerful influences of history, political necessity, and culture, especially the various cultures that Lawrence adapted to out of necessity. I finished the book feeling ...more
Sean Leas
Jan 31, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A Prince of Our Disorder is a great book, and well written. Some aspects are easier to read than others. It is a bit dated, published the year that I was born which unfortunately dates myself. I originally discovered some of the antics of T.E. Lawrence through the 1962 film. One day in the mid 90’s I came across Seven Pillars of Wisdom in a chain bookshop and fell in love with that book and Lawrence’s life.

There is so much more to this man that any movie could ever attempt to portray. Really a s
Feb 08, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: lawrence-stuff
In my opinion, the best biography of T.E. Lawrence. Highly recommended for anyone looking to learn more about this intriguing historical figure.
Jul 30, 2010 rated it really liked it
I was afraid this was going to be too heavily psychological, but it wasn;t. For me the most interesting part (in view of our recent involvement therre) is the part on Lawerence's post-war involvement in setting uip Iraq, which he said he wanted to be "our first brown commonwealth" instead of "our last brown colony." I think there is no doubt he seriously wanted Iraq to be a successful essentially independent state, though whether installing his ally King Feisal in a country to which Feisal had n ...more
Jun 02, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history, favorites
I'm not finished yet, but even just having gotten up to the beginning of WWI, it's a fascinating read. Professor Ajami gave free copies to his 8 AM Thursday class, so you know it has to be good. In retrospect, it's rather a miracle that Lawrence never got murdered by bandits during his early Levantine journeys.
Scooter Chick
Nov 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing
An excellent read with insight that reveals not only Lawrence's triumphant heroism and achievements, but also explores his deeply conflicted mind. In the end one finds even more to admire Lawrence for.
Bob Peru
Oct 13, 2008 rated it it was amazing
one of the best books on lawrence. and i've read a lot both by and about lawrence.
Jun 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I selected this biography, among the many written about TE Lawrence because of the Pulitzer and because of its reputation of being balanced. Reviews of other biographies warn of hagiography or vilification and I wanted "just the facts, ma'am". Granted, this is a psychological biography, so the facts are presented beautifully, but there is a bit of interpretation that is well-presented. After all, Mr. Mack had been a professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. He should know. Mack is a com ...more
Jul 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This book was well researched and I especially liked that Dr. Mack was able to talk to so many of TE's friends from his childhood to his death. I have read many books about TE but learned lots of new information from this book. I liked the clinical analysis at the back and throughout the book. It is well worth the read for anyone interested in T. E. Lawrence, his life and the time in which he lived.
Dec 31, 2008 rated it really liked it
Read over holiday break 2007-08, terrific biography of T. E. Lawrence.
Keith W
Apr 23, 2015 rated it really liked it
An altogether excellent book. Prof. Mack explains and analyzes Lawrence's life in a fresh and interesting way. It is ultimately a very sad story. Lawrence was ashamed of being born out of wedlock and dealt with that shame his entire life. Finally, he could only deal with it by undergoing intense self-punishment that is described in the book. Prof. Mack writes in a very clear, illuminating style and is, I think, very sympathetic to his subject while maintaining the objectivity he needs to analyze ...more
Thomas ODonnell
Apr 14, 2009 is currently reading it
What is the power of great men on events? Do great men make events (and thus can we blame and praise them as the media does) or do events limit and shape the responses and actions of men? And then, how much of what "makes" a great man (or woman) is actually a response to childhood and maturation problems that they are adjusting to? There has long been a strain of thought in heroism studies that feels that heroes are in fact flawed and this book fits that strain. A LOT to think about here.
Oct 08, 2014 rated it really liked it
Wow! Lawrence was a brilliant man but so psychologically damaged. The author, a psychiatrist, basically conducts an exhaustive psychological autopsy in this Pulitzer prize winning biography. There's a bit too much of a Freudian slant for my liking and it can get bogged down, but if you are familiar with Lawrence's bio you can breeze through some parts. I actually read the last section first (to get to the good stuff - the analysis) and am now going back through the biographical section.
Angus McKeogh
Jul 17, 2016 rated it did not like it
Shelves: could-not-finish
Pulitzer. Recommended. And I still can't get into this brick. It's so slow. It approaches Lawrence from a psychological perspective which somehow makes it even more dull for me. More speculative. I've got way too much I wanna read to waste time on something that's not grabbing my interest.
Patrick Cook
Jul 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
Not a clear narrative, and not a comprehensive biography, but then it is not intended to be either. Mack's training in psychiatry is evident throughout, particularly in the final two chapters on Lawrence's sexuality and genera personality.
Mark Sequeira
Excellent. T.E. Lawrence and Sir Richard Burton are two of my favorite warrior/scholars. Deep thinkers, brilliant men who are also men of action. I read this quite a few years ago and remember it as one of the better bios of the 6=7 I've read on Lawrence.
Feb 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Perfect companion to 7 Pillars of Wisdom. Probably the best bio on him.
Apr 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2019
A fascinating and insightful approach to analysing an equally fascinating personality. Best read along with a book more heavily focussed on the historical events and deeds, though, as those are not dealt with in as much detail as one might hope here.
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American psychiatrist, writer, and professor at Harvard Medical School.

He was a Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer, and a leading authority on the spiritual or transformational effects of alleged alien abduction experiences.