Seven Pillars of Wisdom
T. E. Lawrence's masterpiece was published in 1926 even though he wrote most of it about 1919 following his return from the desert. My current reading of this classic account of Lawrence's exploits is both exhilarating and informative. The insights of Lawrence are numerous and I will comment further on these as my reading continues, but I am struck by the depiction of Arab culture of the time and its seeming connection with past and present. The importance of tales told around the hearth as the heart of Arab culture seems to be similar to the culture encountered by Muhammad as he was growing up centuries earlier.
Further, Lawrence's keen ability to describe his surroundings and bring the events, of which he was often the center, alive is shown in almost every chapter. Finally, the portraits of the Arab leaders from Abdulla and Auda to Feisel are fascinating in their detail and psychological insight.
Lawrence, it seems, was born for this journey and fated to share it with us.
Seven Pillars of Wisdom: A Triumph, T. E. Lawrence, Penguin Books, 1981.