The most recommended T. E. Lawrence books

Who picked these books? Meet our 11 experts.

11 authors created a book list connected to T. E. Lawrence, and here are their favorite T. E. Lawrence books.
Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Seven Pillars of Wisdom

By T. E. Lawrence,

Book cover of Seven Pillars of Wisdom

Ben Wiener Author Of Murder at First Principles

From the list on non-business reads that teach business strategy.

Who am I?

I am an experienced entrepreneur and venture capitalist and a voracious reader. My reading, particularly of non-business books, is motivated not just by a natural curiosity, but is also driven by a continuous search for metaphors and lessons from outside the traditional business genre that I can apply to situations and decisions in the business arena. My appreciation of the crossover benefit of non-business narratives to business contexts has motivated me to write my own Business Fiction works to “enlighten and entertain.” 

Ben's book list on non-business reads that teach business strategy

Why did Ben love this book?

Yes, that T.E. Lawrence, of “Lawrence of Arabia” fame.

Turns out that not only was he an exquisite writer, but his account of his years as a British officer who self-embedded with Arab tribesmen during the First World War provides deep lessons for business success.

For starters, just because you’re highly intelligent and educated (Oxford, in his case), don’t assume you must agree with your superiors or yourself about the true motivations and interest of your customers, until you get to know them intimately.

Walk a mile in their shoes – or perhaps thousands of miles in their sandals – and then you might get insights about how to best work with them that might surprise you, and run counter to your prior presumptions.

By T. E. Lawrence,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Seven Pillars of Wisdom as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

With an Introduction by Angus Calder.

As Angus Calder states in his introduction to this edition, 'Seven Pillars of Wisdom is one of the major statements about the fighting experience of the First World War'. Lawrence's younger brothers, Frank and Will, had been killed on the Western Front in 1915. Seven Pillars of Wisdom, written between 1919 and 1926, tells of the vastly different campaign against the Turks in the Middle East - one which encompasses gross acts of cruelty and revenge and ends in a welter of stink and corpses in the disgusting 'hospital' in Damascus.

Seven Pillars of…


Lawrence in Arabia

By Scott Anderson,

Book cover of Lawrence in Arabia: War, Deceit, Imperial Folly and the Making of the Modern Middle East

Julie Salamon Author Of An Innocent Bystander: The Killing of Leon Klinghoffer

From the list on the Israeli Palestinian Conflict.

Who am I?

I have spent my working life as a journalist, author and storyteller, aiming to uncover complexity that sheds new light on stories we think we know. I got my training at the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times—and from the wonderful editors of my twelve books. An Innocent Bystander, my book that deals with the Middle East, began as the story of a hijacking and a murder of an American citizen. But as my research widened, I came to see this story couldn’t be told without understanding many perspectives, including the Israeli and the Palestinian, nor could the political be disentangled from the personal.

Julie's book list on the Israeli Palestinian Conflict

Why did Julie love this book?

T.E. Lawrence, best known from David Lean’s monumental film, is the centerpiece, but this book goes well beyond biography.

It has the pace and feel of a thriller but the research and analytical thinking of a serious historic account.

Anderson, a novelist and war correspondent, finds the roots of today’s Middle East turmoil in World War I. He finds alliances, intrigue, and deceit that foreshadowed the turbulent future. His story provides valuable insight into the international politics that shaped the Middle East after World War I and set the stage for the dissonant future.

By Scott Anderson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Lawrence in Arabia as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Sunday Times Top Ten Bestseller

The Arab Revolt against the Turks in World War One was, in the words of T.E. Lawrence, 'a sideshow of a sideshow'. Amidst the slaughter in European trenches, the Western combatants paid scant attention to the Middle Eastern theatre. As a result, the conflict was shaped to a remarkable degree by a small handful of adventurers and low-level officers far removed from the corridors of power.

At the centre of it all was Lawrence. In early 1914 he was an archaeologist excavating ruins in the sands of Syria; by 1917 he was battling both…


Hero

By Michael Korda,

Book cover of Hero: The Life and Legend of Lawrence of Arabia

J. Lawrence Graham Author Of Charlotte's War

From the list on understanding the roots of war and peace.

Who am I?

I spent the 1970s as an officer in the U.S. Navy UDT/SEAL Teams, giving me insight into the military aspects of peacebuilding. I have spent the last forty years researching and teaching international marketing and negotiations at USC and UC Irvine, after receiving a Berkeley PhD. I was also the director of the UC Irvine Center for Citizen Peacebuilding for ten years. I have published four books on international negotiations and all my ten books in print are on the topic of peace in families, neighborhoods, commerce, and international relations.

J.'s book list on understanding the roots of war and peace

Why did J. love this book?

Korda’s book provides a rich historical account of Lawrence of Arabia.

It explains how the Ottoman Empire was dissected by the British and French after World War I. Because the Europeans ignored cultural boundaries and simply drew straight lines on a map, the region has been a fiery mess since then. Lawrence was a hero for the British, but he advised against the specifics of the peace treaty signed at Versailles.

Korda’s book exemplifies the idea that peace can be achieved through cultural understanding and openness. Had the Europeans utilized a peacebuilding approach the area wouldn’t have been dragged into disarray and generations of conflict. 

By Michael Korda,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Hero as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'This magnificent, monumental portrait at a stroke makes all others redundant, and re-establishes Lawrence as one of the most extraordinary figures of the 20th century' Sunday Times

Michael Korda' s Hero is an epic biography of the mysterious Englishman whose daring exploits made him an object of intense fascination, known the world over as Lawrence of Arabia.


An Oxford Scholar and archaeologist, one of five illegitimate sons of a British aristocrat who ran away with his daughters' governess, T.E. Lawrence was sent to Cairo as an intelligence officer in 1916, vanished into the desert in 1917, and re-emerged as one…


The Middle Parts of Fortune

By Frederic Manning,

Book cover of The Middle Parts of Fortune

Simon Akam Author Of The Changing of the Guard: the British army since 9/11

From the list on the British Army.

Who am I?

In 2003-4 I spent a year in the British Army between school and university. Ten years later, having become a journalist, I returned to investigate what a decade of war had done to the institution I knew as an adolescent. In the years I spent researching and writing The Changing of the Guard I read reams of non-fiction. However, novels retain an ability to hit wider – or harder truths – and some of our greatest writers have fictionalised British Army life. Here is a selection of British Army novels, well-known and less so. They take in conflicts ranging from the First and Second World Wars through to Northern Ireland and Afghanistan. 

Simon's book list on the British Army

Why did Simon love this book?

This is the one First World War novel in which the characters actually talk like soldiers – i.e., they swear. It therefore provides a powerful counterpunch to our usual notion of what the trenches sounded like.

The scalding language survived intact due to the book’s complicated publication history. Initial release in an anonymous volume available only for subscribers meant that Manning, an Australian who had served on the Somme, could sidestep the mores of his time.

The result was lines like this: "“Fuckin' slave drivers, that's what they are!” said Minton, flinging himself on the ground.  “What's the cunt want to come down ‘ere buggerin’ us about for, ‘aven't we done enough bloody work in th’ week?”” A bowdlerised version – “Her Privates We” – later followed, but the unexpurgated original is the one to read.

Ernest Hemingway, Ezra Pound, T.S. Eliot, and T.E. Lawrence all praised Manning’s work.

By Frederic Manning,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Middle Parts of Fortune as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'They can say what they bloody well like, but we're a fuckin' fine mob.'

Deep in the mud, stench of the Somme, Bourne is trying his best to stay alive. There he finds the intense fraternity of war and fear unlike anything he has ever known.

Frederic Manning's novel was first published anonymously in 1929. The honesty with which he wrote about the horror, the boredom, and the futility of war inspired Ernest Hemingway to read the novel every year, 'to remember how things really were so that I will never lie to myself nor to anyone else about them.


The Doomed Oasis

By Hammond Innes,

Book cover of The Doomed Oasis

Louise Burfitt-Dons Author Of Our Man In Kuwait

From the list on spies in the Middle East.

Who am I?

I am a thriller writer who was born and grew up in Kuwait during a period when the country was threatened with invasion by Iraq. My father was the Preventative Health Officer for the Kuwait Oil Company. At the end of 1960 Ian Fleming visited the country and they became close friends. At the time Britain depended on inside information to prepare for military Operation Vantage. The experiences I had of that time and of that relationship, even as a child, were crying out to be written about. Despite the Middle East being a hotspot for espionage during that period of the Cold War, there’s been relatively little written about it.

Louise's book list on spies in the Middle East

Why did Louise love this book?

Moving back to fiction, this swashbuckling adventure story moves between Wales and the Middle East. Published in 1960 it is a little dated in style but packs a punch as a fun thriller as much as giving a background into the politics of the region and the development of the oil industry. It has been described by others as more like watching an old black and white movie. However, it still captures some of the essential elements of the time and the harshness of warfare in the boiling heat. 

By Hammond Innes,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Doomed Oasis as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A sweeping adventure set in the Arabian Desert, where the shadow of British colonialism threatens to destroy a father and son.

Three years ago, nineteen-year-old David Thomas beat his father to death. Actually, David only punched the old man, but it was hard enough to cause him to have a fatal stroke. And the man wasn’t really David’s father at all: The fight started because David learned that his true father was Col. Charles Stanley Whitaker, a legendary figure who made his fortune in the oil fields of the Arabian Desert.
 
With the help of George Grant, a lawyer he’d…


Assignment

By Walter Henry Thompson,

Book cover of Assignment: Churchill

Mary Doria Russell Author Of Dreamers of the Day

From the list on the fragile peace after the Great War.

Who am I?

Mary Doria Russell is the New York Times best-selling and award-winning author of The Sparrow, Children of God, A Thread of Grace, Dreamers of the Day, Doc, Epitaph, and The Women of the Copper Country. Widely praised for her meticulous research, fine prose, and compelling narrative drive.

Mary's book list on the fragile peace after the Great War

Why did Mary love this book?

It will take some digging, but do try to hunt this down. Thompson was assigned as Churchill's bodyguard just a week before the 1921 Cairo Peace Conference began. His account of his boss's attitudes and habits is refreshingly irreverent. (While smoking a cigar, Churchill “looked like an upholstered toad, slowly incinerating himself.”) Thompson also provides an important contemporaneous description of how T. E. Lawrence was regarded by Arabs in 1921, before either he or Churchill became enveloped in mythology.

By Walter Henry Thompson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Assignment as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

AN UNIQUE, INTIMATE VIEW OF WINSTON CHURCHILL BY THE MAN WHO GUARDED HIM NIGHT AND DAY FOR 20 MOMENTOUS YEARS.

When Tommy Thompson as assigned to guard Winston Churchill by Scotland Yard he shuddered. Churchill was considered a tough assignment and Thompson had had his share of tough ones. From Lloyd George to King Alexander of Yugoslavia. But he did it for almost 20 years.

Here is a delightful intimate view of the great statesman and his contemporaries—Lawrence of Arabia, F.D.R., Joseph Stalin, seen with the well-trained eye of a Scotland Yard man.

“As intimate a portrait of Churchill as…


The Odyssey

By Homer, T. E. Lawrence (translator),

Book cover of The Odyssey

Athena Author Of Murder of Crows: Book One of the Pillars of Dawn

From the list on when destiny calls, and love answers.

Who am I?

I have a passion for the topic because it’s so unlimited. We’re all called to destiny inner/outer in so many ways. We see a lot of stories about those calls being massive adventures with global impact—but sometimes the small stories, those inner calls with inner love answers are just as epic, just as magnificent. Love of family, community, country, lovers, nature… truly, it can be anything. These are just a few books off the older shelves to illustrate the many ways love answers the call. My challenge is to go back and re-read them with this list in mind. Re-visit books from a decade ago, reframe the story with love.

Athena's book list on when destiny calls, and love answers

Why did Athena love this book?

This is an obvious pick, I know. Still, it’s on record as the greatest adventure, the highest bar of duty and courage—and ultimately love.

Homer’s epic detailing Odysseus’ journey home from the Trojan War is fraught with peril and obstacles that would have made a lesser human give up and call it a day. 

Destiny called him away, but it was love that brought him home from war. At each crossroad Odysseus was offered an alternative, he chose to return to his wife, his son, and his land. He could have been made immortal.

He was offered riches and greater glory, and all the dude wanted was to kiss his wife and sleep in his own bed at the end of the day. Is that so much to ask?

The reason The Odyssey is on my list is to reflect the scale of destiny, and the answering and equal call…

By Homer, T. E. Lawrence (translator),

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Odyssey as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Homer's great epic, The Odyssey, is perhaps Western literature's first adventure story, and certainly remains one of its finest. It describes King Odysseus of Ithaca's epic, ten-year quest to return home after the Trojan War. He encounters giants, sorceresses, sea-monsters and sirens, while his wife Penelope is forced to resist the suitors who besiege her on Ithaca. Both an enchanting fairy tale and a gripping drama, The Odyssey is immensely influential, not least for its rich complexity and the magnetism of its hero.

This Macmillan Collector's Library edition uses a translation by T. E. Lawrence, now remembered as 'Lawrence of…