In 1988, on the centenary of Thomas Edward (“T. E.”) Lawrence, the Economist observed that he “remains—in the curious company of James Dean—the most widely publicized folk-hero of the century.” Especially in Great Britain, but in the United States and Europe as well, books about him continue to flood the market. The BBC, which broadcast a television documentary about him in the 1960s, broadcast another in 1986; and the haunting David Lean film Lawrence of Arabia was re-released recently, in a fuller version, to continuing acclaim. A new selection of Lawrence’s letters was published in 1988. Seven Pillars of Wisdom, his partly fictional account of the Arab Revolt and his role in it, continues to sell in bookstores more than a half century after its first publication, and is said to be one of the most widely read books in the English language. A massive authorized...


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