Lawrence of Arabia

5 Dec, 2019 940 History of Europe

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss T.E. Lawrence (1888 - 1935), better known as Lawrence of Arabia, a topic drawn from over 1200 suggestions for our Listener Week 2019. Although Lawrence started as an archaeologist in the Middle East, when World War I broke out he joined the British army and became an intelligence officer. His contact with a prominent Arab leader, Sharif Hussein, made him sympathetic to Hussein’s cause and during the Arab Revolt of 1916 he not only served the British but also the interests of Hussein. After the war he was dismayed by the peace settlement and felt that the British had broken an assurance that Sharif Hussein would lead a new Arab kingdom. Lawrence was made famous by the work of Lowell Thomas, whose film of Lawrence drew huge audiences in 1919, which led to his own book Seven Pillars of Wisdom and David Lean’s 1962 film with Peter O’Toole.

Play on BBC Sounds website


  • Hussein Omar No other episodes
    Lecturer in Modern Global History at University College Dublin
  • Catriona Pennell No other episodes
    Associate Professor of Modern History and Memory Studies at the University of Exeter
  • Neil Faulkner No other episodes
    Director of Military History Live and Editor of the magazine Military History Matters

Reading list

  • Neil Faulkner
    Neil Faulkner Google Books →
  • Catriona Pennell at the University of Exeter
    Catriona Pennell
  • Hussein Omar at University College Dublin
    Hussein Omar
  • 'Focus: The Middle East, Hallucination, and The Cartographic Imagination' by Daniel Neep
    Daniel Neep
  • T. E. Lawrence - Wikipedia
    T. E. Lawrence
  • The Ottoman Road to War in 1914: The Ottoman Empire and the First World War
    Mustafa Aksakal (Cambridge University Press, 2006) Google Books →
  • A Line in the Sand: Britain, France, and the Struggle that Shaped the Middle East
    James Barr (Simon & Schuster, 2011) Google Books →
  • Lawrence of Arabia: A Film's Anthropology
    Steven C. Caton (University of California Press, 1999) Google Books →
  • Lawrence of Arabia's War: The Arabs, the British, and the Remaking of the Middle East in WWI
    Neil Faulkner (Yale University Press, 2016) Google Books →
  • The Great War and the Middle East: A Strategic Study
    Rob Johnson (Oxford University Press, 2016) Google Books →
  • Hero: The Life and Legend of Lawrence of Arabia
    Michael Korda (Aurum, 2011) Google Books →
  • Seven Pillars of Wisdom
    T. E. Lawrence (Wordsworth, 1997) Google Books →
  • The Ottoman Endgame: War, Revolution and the Making of the Modern Middle East, 1908 - 1923
    Sean McMeekin (Penguin, 2016) Google Books →
  • The Fall of the Ottomans: The Great War in the Middle East, 1914 -1920
    Eugene Rogan (Allen Lane, 2015) Google Books →
  • Spies in Arabia: The Great War and the Cultural Foundations of Britain's Covert Empire in the Middle East
    Priya Satia (Oxford University Press, 2009) Google Books →
  • Year of the Locust: A Soldier's Diary and the Erasure of Palestine's Ottoman Past
    Salim Tamari (University of California Press, 2011) Google Books →

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Programme ID: m000c0b0

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Auto-category: 940.3 (World War I)

Hello (First sentence from this episode) Hello, in 1919, huge audiences saw an American film report on the recent war with the Ottoman Empire on the Middle Eastern front and were thrilled by its star, a British officer in Arab clothes.