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After I knew I was going to Saudi to help commission the sound system at King Khalid International Airport I undertook to read a little about the area, and I started with Lawrence. What ever faults he may have had he described spending years as a linguist studying various dialects of Arabic and had spent time with the Bedu as well as the marsh Arabs of north of Basra and his work was presented as being in large part an autobiographical account of the events in which he participated. The first portion contained the contextual background. Then I read The Kingdom by Robert Lacey and Sandra Mackey's Inside the Desert Kingdom while trying to pick up some rudimentary Arabic.

All I know about Aldington is the brief blurb about his book, Lawrence of Arabia: A Cautionary Tale, and the surrounding controversy from Amazon:

Fred Crawford provides the first examination of all parties and points of view embroiled in the controversy generated by Richard Aldington's 1955 biography of Lawrence of Arabia.

While researching Lawrence of Arabia: A Biographical Enquiry, Aldington had made major discoveries, including the extent to which Lawrence had cooperated in the creation of the "Lawrence legend." For this and other reasons, he concluded that Lawrence was a charlatan, a poseur, and a fraud. A powerful group including B. H. Liddell Hart, Robert Graves, and A. W. Lawrence worked behind the scenes to suppress and denigrate the biography and to influence Aldington's publisher to force him to make changes to the manuscript before it was published.

Crawford demonstrates that an influential clique with money and power can damage the reputation of a book even before people have had an opportunity to read it. That Aldington's findings were nearly suppressed reveals how little freedom of the press can mean when a book displeases influential people with positions--or myths--to maintain.

Crawford is the first to compare the viewpoints of the three major factions involved in the controversy. Correspondence by and interviews with many involved directly in the dispute among the three contending parties--Aldington, his publisher, and the opposition coordinated by Hart-- make it possible for the reader to know more about the affair than did any of the parties directly involved.

I now have little doubt that there has been serious image manipulation surrounding Lawrence's activities for the British during WW I and perhaps his entire time in Arabia before WWI was in part or in whole financed by British Intelligence, and while it seems possible that the myth making extended to the background chapter he provided and to which I was referring, which was more broad stroke in nature, I subsequently found nothing that contradicted what I recalled of Lawrence by Albert Hourani in his earlier version of History of the Arab Peoples.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon Jun 3rd, 2013 at 02:51:26 PM EST
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