Lawrence of Arabia’s heroism during the Arab revolt and his disgust at the subsequent betrayal of the Arabs in the postwar negotiations have become the stuff of legend. But T. E. Lawrence’s adventures in the Levant began long before the outbreak of war. This intimate biography is the first to focus on Lawrence in his twenties, the untold story of the awkward archaeologist from Oxford who, on first visiting “The East,” fell in love with Arab culture and found his life’s mission.
Few people realize that Lawrence’s classic autobiography, Seven Pillars of Wisdom, was not the first book to carry that iconic title. Lawrence himself burned his original draft. Anthony Sattin here 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, and the personal reasons that drove him from student to spy.
Drawing on surviving letters, diaries, and accounts from close confidantes, Sattin brings a biographer’s eye for detail and a travel writer’s verve to Lawrence’s extraordinary journeys through the region with which his name is forever connected. In a masterful parallel narrative, The Young T. E. Lawrence charts the maturation of the man and the incipient countries he treasured, both coming of age at a time when the world’s foundations were coming undone.