T. E. Lawrence to B H. Liddell Hart
This new book of yours, which reached me yesterday after it and I had wandered in two diverging orbits for half a century - is amazing. I have only read 116 pages, and only read those for the first time, in my ranging way which when it finds a book worth study gallops over the ground for a bird's eye view, and returns at leisure for study: but if there is nothing whatever in the last 2/3, still it will remain a memorable book. Your reasonableness is so utterly sweet that your deadliness is half-concealed. I have not before seen anyone mould and occupy history and geography so much to clarify his own ends.
The last chapter that I have read is your study of the metaphysics of military terminology - and it delights me wholly. So clear, so simple, and so gay. You have mastered the art of expression in your searching after the power to convert souls. It is fine as writing, and would be fine writing, if it were only a description of how to brew hops.
I wonder what the rest of the book is, but shall not know for ever so long, as I go off again tomorrow. The wandering Jew, poor mug, did his best: but his lack of mechanisation makes his career look stagnant beside mine. I didn't want you to keep wondering what or where I was (and where are you?) until fate settles me for a week here again. I keep it as an address, and here books and letters pile up in waiting; so many books and so many letters that I only open a fraction of each pile....
I may overestimate the goodness and value of your book because it hits my tender spot. In the Seven Pillars I wrote a chapter on theory, which was an expression, in terms of Arabia, of very much of what you argue about the aim of war. Of course yours is war proper, and mine was a tussle in a turnip field: but the lesser sometimes mirrors the large.
I send this to the Daily Telegraph, in the hope that you are still on its pay-roll. These are difficult days, and you will not sell more than 5000 copies of this book, I fear. It will be widely read abroad.
We are lucky in England to have anyone who can put the case so clearly. If only our mandarins could read.
(P.S.) My regards to
Mrs. L-H. I hope she and you have been able to enjoy some of this year's
good weather. It has been a wonderful summer. I have web feet now, and
live on the water, in motor boats.
|Last revised:||15 February 2006|
T. E. Lawrence chronology
1888 16 August: born at Tremadoc, Wales
1896-1907: City of Oxford High School for Boys
1907-9: Jesus College, Oxford, B.A., 1st Class Hons, 1909
1910-14: Magdalen College, Oxford (Senior Demy), while working at the British Museum's excavations at Carchemish
1915-16: Military Intelligence Dept, Cairo
1916-18: Liaison Officer with the Arab Revolt
1919: Attended the Paris Peace Conference
1919-22: wrote Seven Pillars of Wisdom
1921-2: Adviser on Arab Affairs to Winston Churchill at the Colonial Office
1922 August: Enlisted in the Ranks of the RAF
1923 January: discharged from the RAF
1923 March: enlisted in the Tank Corps
1923: translated a French novel, The Forest Giant
1924-6: prepared the subscribers' abridgement of Seven Pillars of Wisdom
1927-8: stationed at Karachi, then Miranshah
1927 March: Revolt in the Desert, an abridgement of Seven Pillars, published
1928: completed The Mint, began translating Homer's Odyssey
1929-33: stationed at Plymouth
1931: started working on RAF boats
1932: his translation of the Odyssey published
1933-5: attached to MAEE, Felixstowe
1935 February: retired from the RAF
1935 19 May: died from injuries received in a motor-cycle crash on 13 May
1935 21 May: buried at Moreton, Dorset