Books: The Hero Our Century Deserved

T.E. LAWRENCE: THE SELECTED LETTERS

Edited by Malcolm Brown; Norton; 568 pages; $27.50

With hindsight, it is easy to see why a slim, self-effacing Englishman named Thomas Edward Lawrence became one of this century's most ballyhooed celebrities. Out of the appalling carnage of World War I -- the mud-caked anonymity of the trenches, the hail of mechanized death that spewed from machine guns and fell from airplanes -- there emerged a lone Romantic, framed heroically against the clean desert sands of Arabia. U.S. journalist Lowell Thomas was the first to recognize that Lawrence's wartime work -- organizing disparate Arab tribes into...

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