T E Lawrence

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T E Lawrence Essay, Research Paper

Colonel T. E. Lawrence, known as Lawrence of Arabia, was a guerrilla leader

in the Arab Revolt of 1916-18, which expelled the Turks from western Arabia and

Syria during World War I. Lawrence was an aloof, complex, versatile, somewhat

arrogant genius, and his exploits made him a popular, if enigmatic, hero in the

Western world.

Thomas Edward Lawrence was born at Tremadoc, Wales, on Aug. 15, 1888. His

father, Sir Thomas Robert Chapman, was an Anglo-Irish landholder who left his

wife for his family’s governess. Thomas was the second of five sons produced by

this union. Adopting the name Lawrence, the family settled in Oxford, where

Thomas eventually entered the university. Specializing in archaeology,

architecture, and history, he began learning Arabic when he visited Syria and

Palestine. After graduating in 1910, he worked as an archaeologist in the Middle

East until early 1914.

After the outbreak of World War I, Lawrence returned to Egypt in December

1914 as an intelligence officer. In October 1916 he accompanied a British

mission to aid Husayn ibn Ali of Mecca, who had launched the Arab Revolt against

Ottoman Turkish rule. Shortly thereafter he joined Husayn’s son and army

commander, Faisal (later King Faisal I of Iraq), as an advisor. Together, Faisal

and Lawrence proceeded to push back the Ottoman forces by raiding the

Damascus-Medina railroad and overrunning Ottoman strongpoints. In October 1918

the Arabs took Damascus, and Lawrence returned to Britain.

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