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Paperback / ISBN-13: 9781848549111

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T. E. Lawrence was one of the most charismatic characters of the First World War; a young archaeologist who fought with the Arabs and wrote an epic and very personal account of their revolt against the Turks in Seven Pillars of Wisdom. Yet this was not the first book to carry that iconic title.

In 1914 the man who would become Lawrence of Arabia burnt the first Seven Pillars of Wisdom, a manuscript in which he described his adventures in the Middle East during the five years before the war.

Anthony Sattin 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, the intimate details of the extraordinary journeys he took through the region with which his name is forever connected and the personal reasons that drove him from being a student to becoming an archaeologist and a spy.

Young Lawrence is the first book to focus on the story of T. E. Lawrence in his twenties, before the war, during the period he looked back on as his golden years. Using first-hand sources, museum records and Foreign Office documents, Sattin sets these adventures against the background of corrosive conflicts in Libya and the Balkans. He shows the simmering defiance of Arabs, Armenians and Kurds under Turkish domination, while uncovering the story of an exceptional young man searching for happiness, love and his place in the world until war changed his life forever.

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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. He has filled the ominous political background that Lawrence knew, but hardly mentioned in his letters home. 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, authorised Lawrence biographer
I enjoyed Young Lawrence very much . . . while Lawrence is not a boy in Anthony Sattin's splendid book he clearly prefigures Lawrence of Arabia - a conscious striving towards 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
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
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 done so in an account so well-written that 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
An intelligent and readable addition to the existing corpus of biographical works about Lawrence
Andrew Lycett, Literary Review
An enjoyable book and a welcome addition to the literature on Lawrence
The Spectator
In Young Lawrence, Anthony Sattin has struck gold . . . balancing a lively, novelistic approach with genuine biographical inquiry in a very readable book
Giles Foden, Conde Nast Traveller
One of the best biographies to read in October
Sattin has written a compelling account of a young man learning to live according to his dreams
A valuable insight into a fascinating young man before he disappeared into legend
Sattin somehow manages to balance a lively, novelistic approach with genuine biographical inquiry among hundreds if not thousands of sources . . . a serious but very readable book which would make a great Christmas present
Conde Nast Traveller
Anthony Sattin, an Arabophile himself, is the perfect writer to bring us Lawrence's early life . . . a gripping, well researched book, adding an insightful portrait of young Lawrence before his more famous achievements
Compass Magazine
A masterful account of the beginnings of a unique man
Kirkus Reviews
This highly readable book never lacks for the big story but it also does not let that history lose the hero
New York Journal of Books
It's fascinating to see how much of Lawrence's later, singular personality is evident in his early life
BBC History
Sattin's own travel writing experience, lends this detailed biography of Lawrence's early years an immediacy, pace and sense of place that is as enjoyable as it is revelatory, as telling about Lawrence's personal relationship and motivations as it is about Middle Eastern history
A quirky but rigorous biographical study
The Economist
[Anthony Sattin] spent more than twenty years travelling in the Middle East and his own passion for the place and people illuminates his writing. It's as if he knew Lawrence personally
Toronto Star
Lawrence's youthful enthusiasms, aspirations and loves are brilliantly reconstructed in Sattin's compelling and sympathetic book
Sattin makes a superb job of reconstructing that lost record of Lawrence's life before he became a war hero . . . Sattin is excellent on the troubled history of the region, and the 'what ifs' are enough to make your heart break