Colonel Lawrence, the Man behind the Legend

Colonel Lawrence, the Man behind the Legend

Colonel Lawrence, the Man behind the Legend

Colonel Lawrence, the Man behind the Legend


This book has changed its form as it has progressed. I began it with the idea of writing an historical sketch of the Arab Revolt in which T. E. "Lawrence" would naturally fill a large corner. My purpose was to clear away the dust of legend that has covered this peculiarly interesting episode of the World War, and to put it in perspective, bringing out its relation to the main campaign and to the history of irregular warfare. Also I desired to establish the true proportions of Lawrence's personal achievement--which I expected to be less than legend conveyed.

But as my study went further and deeper my picture changed. The events that had significance were seen to have their source in his action, and, still more, in his conception. The others faded into insignificance. I saw that there was a truth greater than its superficial suggestion in his deprecatory comment that his part--"was only synthetic. I combined their loose shower of sparks into a firm flame: transformed their series of unrelated incidents into a conscious operation."

Although he was here speaking only of his relations with the Arab chiefs I have gradually come to see that it should be applied to the whole.

But for him the Arab Revolt would have remained a collection of slight and passing incidents. Through him it had an important bearing on the course of outer events both during and since the war. Also on the course of warfare.

I found him growing more distinct as the background faded, until the Arab Revolt became an emanation of him. Thus I was compelled to recast the book and to make it primarily a study of him.

I have, however, kept the original form of the opening chapters, while diminishing their content, because it may help to convey the gradual sense of how he grew out of the Revolt as the Revolt was growing out of him.

Those who are not interested in the events that led up to the Revolt may prefer to skip Book II (Chapters i, ii, and iii). For their con-

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