Lawrence of Arabia on War: The Campaign in the Desert 1916–18 (Paperback)

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A new study of Captain T. E. Lawrence "of Arabia," his ideas on warfare, and the context of the military campaigns and peace settlements and the legacies that followed.

One hundred years ago, Captain Lawrence and an unlikely band of Arab irregulars captured the strategic port of Aqaba after an epic journey through waterless tracts of desert. Their attacks on railways during the Great War are well known and have become the stuff of legend, but while Lawrence himself has been the subject of fascinating biographies, as well as an award-winning film, the context of his war in the desert, and his ideas on war itself, are less well-known.

This new title offers a high-paced evaluation of T. E. Lawrence "of Arabia" and the British military operations in the Near East, revising and adding to conventional narratives in order to tell the full story of this influential figure, as well as the Ottoman-Turkish perspective, and the Arabs' position, within the context of the war. It is also a study of warfare and the manner in which Lawrence and others made their assessments of what was changing, what was distinctive, and what was unique to the desert environment. This book sets Lawrence in context, examines the peace settlement he participated in, and describes how Lawrence's legacy has informed and inspired those partnering and mentoring local forces to the present day.

About the Author

Robert Johnson is a lecturer at the University of Oxford and an associate professor of the Department of Politics and International Relations. He also advises military and government personnel on strategic issues, including the partnering and mentoring of local military forces, like T. E. Lawrence. He has written a number of books including The Great War and the Middle East (Oxford University Press, 2016); True to Their Salt (Hurst, 2017) and The Afghan Way of War (Hurst, 2011) and is the editor of At the End of Military Intervention (Oxford University Press, 2014). He is also the author of a number of academic articles. Robert is based in the UK.

Praise For…

“A riveting account of T. E. Lawrence's battles on and off the battlefield… Using scrupulous research and succinct prose, Johnson provides a gold mine of stratagems… a must-read for military leaders to come!” —Arnel P. David, Lt Col, US Army Special Advisor to the Chief of the General Staff (UK)

“An innovative study of Lawrence that carefully and intelligently examines his campaigns and thinking on irregular warfare, and in doing so produces an accessible and intellectually stimulating work of military history.” —James Kitchen, Royal Military Academy Sandhurst

“A new, pioneering study of Lawrence in Arabia, focusing on his military thought, contributions to strategic theory and, indeed, continuing relevance to today's doctrines of insurgency, counterinsurgency and 'hybrid' warfare. Rob Johnson's intimate knowledge of his subject produces a fascinating book which fuses history and theory.” —Azar Gat, Ezer Weitzman Professor of National Security, Tel Aviv University

“T. E. Lawrence's reputation has been a battleground for historians and biographers for decades. Setting aside the clutter of disputes about the accuracy of Lawrence's post-war writings, Rob Johnson's superb study makes a bold and compelling case that Lawrence was a significant and original military thinker. This is a major contribution to the literature on the Middle East in the Great War, and the history of military ideas - and it is highly relevant to contemporary armed force.” —Professor Gary Sheffield, University of Wolverhampton

“In this significant re-examination of the breadth and depth of TE Lawrence's contribution to strategic thought and guerrilla war, Rob Johnson performs the invaluable task of linking military history to contemporary thinking on counterinsurgency and hybrid war. The critical consideration of Lawrence's military engagements and the careful analysis of the myth versus the man are vividly explored and reveal how Lawrence remains relevant for those interested in the contemporary character of warfare.” —Dr Matthew Ford, University of Sussex

“Rob Johnson elegantly presents an account of Lawrence's writing on guerrilla warfare with his experience of it in the desert, in a captivating narrative which allows the reader to see how the theory and practice inform each other. Johnson's account is especially strong on Lawrence's analysis of the human, psychological element of war, and traces this theme up to the present day. This timely work will engage general readers and specialists alike.” —Emile Simpson, author of 'War From the Ground Up', and former Gurkha officer

“This volume is the key to understanding how this Oxford historian and archaeologist emerged as a major strategic tactician…This book by Rob Johnson has a strong appeal at so many levels and is thoroughly recommended.” —Trevor James, The Historian

“This book can be strongly recommended to anyone interested in Lawrence, the First World War in the Middle East, and the theory and practice of guerrilla warfare.” —Neil Faulkner, Military History Matters

“A most valuable and interesting study.” —Matthew Bourke, Asian Affairs

“Johnson's account of Lawrence's thinking on irregular warfare will remain an important and widely cited work for years to come.” —International Journal of Military History and Historiography

Product Details
ISBN: 9781472834928
ISBN-10: 1472834925
Publisher: Osprey Publishing
Publication Date: March 1st, 2025
Pages: 368
Language: English