Books

Michael Korda on Seven Pillars of Wisdom

I don't know how many times I've read Seven Pillars of Wisdom, but like the other "great books" that T.E. Lawrence wanted it to stand beside—Moby Dick, Thus Spake Zarathustra, and Crime and Punishment (in the Garnett translation) it richly pays re-reading. It is perhaps the finest and most exciting non-fiction book ever written about war, and besides, though completed in 1922, it illuminates many of our problems and misunderstandings in Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East. Read it in the new Castle Hill Press edition, which is eminently readable, and contains the full text of the 1922 "Oxford" edition (you can buy it on the web). It contains no illustrations, but has Lawrence's own excellent maps in four colors—and Castle Hill has the original four-color plates available as a separate volume. It is long, but terrifying and mesmerizing.