This summer, I met the author Scott Anderson at The Half King, the New York bar that he co-owns with Sebastian Junger. We were there to talk about his book Lawrence in Arabia, which was published this August, and I was thrilled to sit across from Scott and listen to him talk about a book that had kept me reading during many a late night.
The book was eventually selected as an Amazon Best Book of August—and just today it recieved a rave review from The New York Times. Janet Maslin says of it, "a fascinating book, the best work of military history in recent memory and an illuminating analysis of issues that still loom large today."
During World War I, the course of the modern day Middle East was set by a handful of young, low-ranking actors who exerted oversized influence on the region. In Lawrence in Arabia, Anderson focuses on four men: a minor German diplomat and spy, an American oilman descended from the Yale family, a Romanian-born agronomist, and T.E. Lawrence himself. Each character seems to have been plucked from a novel, none moreso than Lawrence himself, who comes across as both human and superhuman at the same time. He did so much to set the course for that region, and seemed to know it so well, that I asked Anderson what T.E. Lawrence would say if he were plopped down in the Middle East today. Scott's answer isn't in the video, but after thinking for a moment, Anderson replied, I told you so.
See the video here: