The Young T. E. Lawrence (Hardcover)

The Young T. E. Lawrence By Anthony Sattin Cover Image

The Young T. E. Lawrence (Hardcover)

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An intimate biography of the years that turned T. E. Lawrence into Lawrence of Arabia.


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.



Anthony Sattin is the author of The Gates of Africa, The Young T. E. Lawrence, A Winter on the Nile, and other acclaimed books of history and travel. His journalism has appeared in publications around the world. He lives in London, England.

Product Details ISBN: 9780393242669
ISBN-10: 0393242668
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
Publication Date: January 26th, 2015
Pages: 336
Language: English
T. E. Lawrence has always been one of the most enigmatic figures of the twentieth century, but he becomes markedly less so here. Through meticulous research and crackling prose, Sattin charts the youthful passions and influences—and not a few family and personal secrets—that helped create the future Lawrence of Arabia, and he has done so in an account so well-written that it is hard to put down. An absolutely indispensable read for anyone hoping to understand the evolution of one of the most beguiling and romantic figures of the modern age.
— Scott Anderson, author of Lawrence in Arabia: War, Deceit, Imperial Folly and the Making of the Modern Middle East

I enjoyed The Young T. E. Lawrence very much. On the subject of biography, Ulysses S. Grant once wrote that 'What I want to know is what a man did as a boy,' i.e., 'the formative years,' and while Lawrence is not a boy in Anthony Sattin’s splendid book, he clearly prefigures Lawrence of Arabia—a conscious striving toward becoming a hero, and a bold exploration not only of the Middle East but of himself.

— Michael Korda, author of Hero: The Life and Legend of Lawrence of Arabia

Anthony Sattin knows a good story when he sees one. While most of Lawrence's biographers focus heavily on the war period, Sattin has grasped the importance of the years Lawrence spent in the Middle East beforehand, essential preparation for what followed. As a travel writer enlarging on the writings of a forerunner, Sattin also often enriches Lawrence's account. I thoroughly enjoyed the result.
— Jeremy Wilson, author of Lawrence of Arabia: The Authorised Biography of T. E. Lawrence

Sattin’s unique portrait reveals an itinerant scholar adventurously immersing himself in the history, peoples, and landscapes of the Near East, the chrysalis of the brilliant figure soon to emerge: Lawrence of Arabia.
— Steve Kemper, author of A Labyrinth of Kingdoms

Sattin has written a compelling account of a young man learning to live according to his dreams.
— Observer (London)

Anthony Sattin proves that the British know how to write a great adventure as well as how to have one. This highly readable book never lacks the big story but it also does not let that history lose the hero.
— Robert Davis - New York Journal of Books

Approaches the oft-profiled T.E. Lawrence from a new angle… engaging.
— Publishers Weekly

Sattin paints a rich picture of these years in Lawrence’s life.
— Philip Delves Broughton - Wall Street Journal

[A] quirky but rigorous biographical study…biographers such as Mr. Sattin have to be diggers and restorers, sifting a mass of evidence and gluing the bits together.
— The Economist

Passionate, informed… Anthony Sattin reached that place of grace in his research for The Young T.E. Lawrence where a writer can relax and let the story tell itself. And what a story he has to tell.

— Linda Diebel - The Toronto Star