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Young Lawrence: A Portrait of the Legend as a Young Man

Anthony Sattin

8 Reviews

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Arabian peninsula, Biography: historical, political & military, Prose: non-fiction

A biography of Lawrence of Arabia in the years that formed him.

T. E. Lawrence was one of the most charismatic characters of the First World War; a young archaeologist who fought with the Arabs and wrote an epic and very personal account of their revolt against the Turks in Seven Pillars of Wisdom. Yet this was not the first book to carry that iconic title.

In 1914 the man who would become Lawrence of Arabia burnt the first Seven Pillars of Wisdom, a manuscript in which he described his adventures in the Middle East during the five years before the war.

Anthony Sattin uncovers the story Lawrence wanted to conceal: the truth of his birth, his tortuous relationship with a dominant mother, his deep affection for an Arab boy, the intimate details of the extraordinary journeys he took through the region with which his name is forever connected and the personal reasons that drove him from being a student to becoming an archaeologist and a spy.

Young Lawrence is the first book to focus on the story of T. E. Lawrence in his twenties, before the war, during the period he looked back on as his golden years. Using first-hand sources, museum records and Foreign Office documents, Sattin sets these adventures against the background of corrosive conflicts in Libya and the Balkans. He shows the simmering defiance of Arabs, Armenians and Kurds under Turkish domination, while uncovering the story of an exceptional young man searching for happiness, love and his place in the world until war changed his life forever.

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Praise for Young Lawrence: A Portrait of the Legend as a Young Man

  • Anthony Sattin knows a good story when he sees one. While most of Lawrence's biographers focus heavily on the war period, Sattin has grasped the importance of the years Lawrence spent in the Middle East beforehand, essential preparation for what followed. He has filled the ominous political background that Lawrence knew, but hardly mentioned in his letters home. As a travel writer enlarging on the writings of a forerunner, Sattin also often enriches Lawrence's account. I thoroughly enjoyed the result

  • I enjoyed Young Lawrence very much . . . while Lawrence is not a boy in Anthony Sattin's splendid book he clearly prefigures Lawrence of Arabia - a conscious striving towards becoming a hero, and a bold exploration not only of the Middle East, but of himself - Michael Korda, author of Hero: The Life and Legend of Lawrence of Arabia

  • Sattin's unique portrait reveals an itinerant scholar adventurously immersing himself in the history, peoples, and landscapes of the Near East, the chrysalis of the brilliant figure soon to emerge: Lawrence of Arabia - Steve Kemper, author of A Labyrinth of Kingdoms

  • Through meticulous research and crackling prose, Sattin charts the youthful passions and influences - and not a few family and personal secrets - that helped create the future Lawrence of Arabia, and done so in an account so well-written that is hard to put down. An absolutely indispensable read for anyone hoping to understand the evolution of one of the most beguiling and romantic figures of the modern age - Scott Anderson

  • An intelligent and readable addition to the existing corpus of biographical works about Lawrence - Andrew Lycett, Literary Review

  • An enjoyable book and a welcome addition to the literature on Lawrence - The Spectator

  • The author has explored and followed in the footsteps of Lawrence, and it shows in his deep understanding of his goals, why he did what he did and how he managed . . . A masterful account of the beginnings of a unique man - Kirkus

  • In Young Lawrence, Anthony Sattin has struck gold . . . balancing a lively, novelistic approach with genuine biographical inquiry in a very readable book - Giles Foden, Conde Nast Traveller

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Anthony Sattin

Anthony Sattin is a journalist, broadcaster and the author of several highly acclaimed books of history and travel including The Gates of Africa, Lifting the Veil and A Winter on the Nile. He is editorial advisor on Geographical Magazine, a contributing editor to Conde Nast Traveller and a fellow of the Royal Geographical Society. He lives in London and the Middle East.

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