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  • Seven Pillars of Wisdom

  • By: T. E. Lawrence
  • Narrated by: Roy McMillan
  • Length: 25 hrs and 20 mins
  • 4.8 out of 5 stars (86 ratings)

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Seven Pillars of Wisdom

By: T. E. Lawrence
Narrated by: Roy McMillan
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Publisher's Summary

Although T. E. Lawrence, commonly known as "Lawrence of Arabia", died in 1935, the story of his life has captured the imagination of succeeding generations. Seven Pillars of Wisdom is a monumental work in which he chronicles his role in leading the Arab Revolt against the Turks during the First World War. A reluctant leader, and wracked by guilt at the duplicity of the British, Lawrence nevertheless threw himself into his role, suffering the blistering desert conditions and masterminding military campaigns which culminated in the triumphant march of the Arabs into Damascus.

Public Domain (P)2012 Naxos AudioBooks

What listeners say about Seven Pillars of Wisdom

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Exquisite detail

A most interesting read, even if being somewhat long and unwieldy -but if you can’t handle that then you’re just not going to make it to Aqaba.. much less to the end of the campaign. While some pointed to the length and detail and complained, I relished it, for this is not the sort of experience you or I will ever have. The book permits you to concentrate on what interests you most, whether it’s the people, the thoughts of strategy or regret, cruelty of fate in war or the magnificent stride of the camels and scope of the dessert. It could have been cut down surely, though at a cost and I feel it rawer, more authentic and indeed momentous in this form. Besides - it’s an audiobook - someone reads it for you! What impressively written material and what an extraordinary story.

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6 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

A great listen, well read and very entertaining.

I would recommend this book to anyone, really enjoyed the readers voice and inflections. Well worth the time to listen.

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2 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Excellent narration for a thrilling classic.

Push through the prologue and the story takes hold. Have a map handy to help follow through the action. But the narration is excellent and carries through the more difficult to follow passages. Really engaging perspectives and understanding of WWI.

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1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

A brilliant and illuminating account of the Arab Dawn.

So well read! The voice seemed perfect for TEL it almost felt like he was telling the story. Such an interesting account of the shaping of Mesopotamia in modern Arabia.

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

My new favourite tale

A brilliant and insightful look into the feelings of one of histories most enigmatic figures. I recommend this to all.

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Never have the horrors of war been so beautifully told

One of the great adventure stories. A reluctant hero who yet craves to make history.

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

worth a second (or 3rd?) listen...with map in hand

The narrator was perfect. Made me imagine Lawrence himself was speaking.
The narrative quite surprised me. Lawrence wrote beautifully. At the sentence level, poetic, especially descriptions of scenery, faces, and the temperaments of men, with large and well deployed vocabulary. Lawrence is brutal, both in the violence described and in casting judgement on others and on himself.
I am pretty ignorant about the Middle East and normally dislike military history, so I lost the plot in places. Look forward to doing some background reading and listening through again.

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

A rich and long history.

This listen is a long, fruitful, rich and tiresome journey. I can only be in awe of Lawrence of Arabia’s feats. For anyone with experience in the Middle East and with the Arabic populace, you will be equally impressed at how relatable the decades ago era still is.
I was particularly captivated by Lawrernce’s detailed encounters of the vast and baron deserts and the rural landscapes he traversed. The ability to move and operate over 100’s of miles on camelback effectively, was nothing short of incredible. Accompanied by the cunning sabotaging and ambushing tactics, which left me to wonder if those same styled long range, enduring, isolated, resourceful themed operations could be replicated today.
After all, these operations were undertaken with limited rations, coffee and uncertain water resoirvoires and were achieved through limited equipment and demolitions. However, they were able to skilfully target the Turkish rail supply routes with determinative accuracy, which in itself was a fine display of unconventional warfare.
As Lawrence was a Britsh operative amongst the Arab tribes, Lawrence’s will, perseverance and resolve were impressive and engaging to learn from. The deep understanding Lawrence developed of the Arab’s characteristics and traits, as well as accommodating and navigating them were so excellently done. Which his observations, to the readers/ listeners delight, were so exquisitely portrayed. Including:
‘The Arab leaders showed a completeness of instinct, reliance upon intuition and the unperceived foreknown which left our centrifugal minds gasping. Like women, they understood and judged quickly, effortlessly, unreasonably. It’s almost seemed as though the oriental exclusion of women from politics had conferred her particular gifts upon the men.’
However, what I most enjoyed about this British representative, was the elegance and poise he was able to capture in the graphic and descriptive story telling. Quotes which reflect this powerful and traditionally styled writing examples are numerous but some standouts were:
‘The trim settlement of absurd little houses, brown and white, holding together for security's sake, looked doll-like and more lonely than the desert, in the immense shadow of the dark precipice of Subh, behind. While we watched it, hoping to see life at its doors, the sun was rushing up, and the fretted cliffs, those thousands of feet above our heads, became outlined in hard refracted shafts of white light against a sky still sallow with the transient dawn.’
‘after a long spell of the restrained desert, flowers and grass seemed to fidget and the everywhere burgeoning green of tilth became vulgar in its fecundity.’

The depiction of a lone British operative amongst these daring and ambitious Arab tribes were also appropriately highlighted
‘Englishmen being sure of their own absolute excellence.’
‘The English hunger for desolate lands, to build them up, and so perhaps one day Arabia will seem to them precious.’
‘we English who lived years abroad among strangers went always dressed in the pride of our remembered country. That strange entity that had no part with its inhabitants but for those who loved England most often liked Englishmen least.’
I found these to be profound, accurate and humourous outlooks of the British.

While this may not be a book I will highly recommend to friends and family, I feel I’m richer from the experience. I’d highly encourage the Audible version, the narrator is a delight to listen to and depicts the narrative excellently.
I enjoyed reminiscing from my own history of working closely with numerous nationalities across the Middle East, and the rich detail in story telling I can hope to aspire towards. While the story was long, mixed with some dryer sections, I feel that is inevitable from such a long drawn out and detailed themes to unconventional styled operations.

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

A brilliant piece of history, historical fiction and autobiography

Firstly a wonderful and probably difficult piece of narration.

I must admit I struggled through parts of this book especially with Lawrence’s indulgence of his times with the Arabs in the desert. It is written like a diary however I wonder how Lawrence kept such a detailed library. I suspect when writing the book a lot must have have come from recollection. Lawrence was indeed a complex man masquerading behind his account an underlying homosexual and masochist sexual orientation; his account of his capture doesn’t ring true to me and I sense, perhaps wrongly, that he enjoyed that experience.

Nevertheless I believe that this book is essential reading for all those to understand the political developments of the Middle East in the 20th century.

Questions obviously arise why a full Colonel in the British army could have refused a knighthood and then become an aircraft-man, changed his name a couple of times and sought obscurity. A lot to think and reflect on.

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

A beautiful and sad classic, perfectly read.

A brilliant book and well read audio book.

Having travelled through most of the area this book is set in, it amazed me how little has changed and how accurate and precise Lawrence was in his description of the Arab people.

Lawrence has been criticised for being overly dramatic and self aggrandising but I begin to doubt those critics either read his memoirs fully or had any experience in Arabia.

Absolutely brilliant narration, I look forward to more of his work. For a dense and at times, dry read, a second read via listening has helped me to absorb more and appreciate the story.

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