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T. E. Lawrence to B H. Liddell Hart

Myrtle Cottage


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.

Source: B:LH 48-9
Checked: jw/
Last revised: 15 February 2006

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