85. LAWRENCE OF ARABIA: All men dream
Thomas Edward Lawrence (1888-1935) was a legendary British army officer famous for his role in the Arab Revolt in World War I. During the war, the British Empire helped and encouraged an Arab uprising against the Ottoman Empire, who had ruled the area now known as the Middle-East for over 400 years. An Arab revolt would force the Central Powers to fight on another front, greatly thinning out their forces and giving the Allies a greater chance of overall victory. Having extensive knowledge with Arab culture after working as an archaeologist in the region, Lawrence was stationed in Egypt and was asked to liaise with the Arab leaders. Lawrence’s knowledge of Arab geography and his brilliant tactical mind was so impressive that he gained the trust of the Arab leader Prince Faisal. Lawrence became part of Faisal’s inner-circle and helped marshal the separate Arab tribes into a unified guerrilla army who would eventually go on to victory.
Lawrence was an all-around badass. Despite being only 5’5″ tall, he commanded the respect of the Arab and British soldiers and was so feared by the Turkish that they put a bounty on his head. He had a brilliant military mind and devised highly effective desert warfare tactics that were so successful they’ve been adopted by the Taliban today. How’s this for a cool quote that Lawrence wrote about his tactics:
“Suppose we were (as we might be) an influence, an idea, a thing intangible, invulnerable, without front or back, drifting about like a gas? Armies were like plants, immobile, firm-rooted, nourished through long stems to the head. We might be a vapour, blowing where we listed… Ours should be a war of detachment. We were to contain the enemy by the silent threat of a vast, unknown desert …”
After the war, Lawrence and his war exploits were featured in a popular photo film that made him a celebrity. His own account of his wartime feats was documented in the book The Seven Pillars of Wisdom. Sadly, his life was cut short when he was in a fatal motorcycle accident in 1935.
- I haven’t actually seen the 1962 film classic Lawrence of Arabia. Um … I guess I should since it’s supposed to be one of the greatest movies ever.
- Thanks to everyone who submitted this quote and suggest I look into Lawrence. I had obviously heard the name before but I didn’t really know anything about him.