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The Battle for ‘Lawrence of Arabia’

Part I: The Lawrence Bureau

T.E. Lawrence (1888-1935) ranks among the 20th Century’s oddest heroes. This short, smart, and mischievous British soldier helped organize the Arab Revolt against Turkey, a secondary front of the First World War. He became Emir Feisal’s trusted ally, painfully conscious that the Allies wouldn’t honor promises of independence. After the Paris Peace Conference, Lawrence retreated into the Royal Air Force and Tank Corps as a private soldier, T.E. Shaw.

Lawrence lived a curious double life, befriending both private soldiers and notables like Winston Churchill and George Bernard Shaw. He wrote memoirs and translated Homer while repairing boats and seaplanes. His intellect, warmth, and puckish humor masked internal torment – guilt for failing to secure Arab freedom, regret for two brothers killed in the war, shame over an incident where Turkish soldiers sexually assaulted him.

In his autobiography Seven Pillars of Wisdom, Lawrence
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