Friday, October 01, 2004

History Friday: 1918, Lawrence of Arabia Captures Damascus

Ahh yes, the joys of History Friday on a Monday. What can I say? I like to keep folks guessing.

This (last) week's entry in the log book of things marks the alleged capture of Damascus by Lawrence of Arabia and the leaders of the Arab Revolt. I say alleged as Lawrence was a consummate fertilizer merchant and self-publicist who was never adverse to taking credit for the hard work of others (and I write as one of his admirers.) The Australians, for one, feel that they have a legitimate beef with El'Orenz and his warrior bands:

Australians Dispute Lawrence's Damascus Claims

For a traditional defense of Lawrence and his wartime exploits visit these chaps: T.E. Lawrence biography.

Or for a more ambivalent look: The Importance of T.E. Lawrence

I personally feel that our modern view of Lawrence of Arabia comes mostly from the outstanding David Lean film of the same name. A brilliant piece of art, with all the expedient adjustment of truths that a good narrative requires. Besides, the film draws heavily on Lawrence's own Seven Pillars of Wisdom which as with any egomaniac's autobiography is florid with self-aggrandizement and potent myth.

Still, a ripping good yarn is always a ripping good yarn, whatever disturbing sado-masochistic, closeted and damaged homosexual, or unpleasant racist overtones follow in the wake of the original breathless accounts of derring-do.

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