Lawrence of Arabia on War

Lawrence of Arabia on War

The Campaign in the Desert 1916–18

General Military
  • Author: Robert Johnson
  • Short code: GNM
  • Publication Date: 30 Apr 2020
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'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

'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

Lawrence of Arabia is one of the most iconic figures of the First World War, seen by many as a heroic and romantic guerrilla leader in a period of savage and deeply impersonal industrial warfare. While Lawrence himself has been the subject of many biographies, and an award-winning film, the context of his war in the desert, and his ideas on war itself, are less well known.

Lawrence of Arabia on War is a study of those ideas and of his campaign of irregular warfare which has informed tactical theory and decision-making down to the present day, juxtaposed alongside the operations conducted by the Ottoman Empire and those of the Allied army in Palestine. It explores the challenges he faced in a complex environment against a more numerous and better armed adversary, and the manner in which he assessed what was changing, what was distinctive, and what was unique to guerrilla warfare in the desert. Setting Lawrence in his historical context, it examines the peace settlement process he participated in during 1919-20, analyses how other military writers made use of his ideas, and describes the ways in which his legacy has informed and inspired those partnering and mentoring local forces today.

Biographical Note

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.


List of Illustrations

1 T. E. Lawrence and Contemporary Ideas on War
2 Depth not Face: The Making of an Insurgency
3 Extending the Flank: The Manoeuvre to Wejh
4 Seizing the ‘Kingfisher Moment': The Learning Curve of Resistance
5 The Indirect Strategy and the Capture of Aqaba
6 Culminating Point at Aqaba
7 Railway Raids and Lawrence's Conception of Mature Guerrilla Warfare
8 Movement as the Law of Strategy: The Battle of Tafila
9 Fighting Alongside Local Forces
10 By, With and Through: Integrating Local Forces in Allenby's Campaign
11 Towards Armageddon: Operations Against Deraa
12 Hybrid Warfare: Air and Mobile Operations
13 The Deep Battle: Megiddo and the Final Phase of Guerrilla Operations
14 Lawrence on Strategy and Politics
15 Instrumentalizing Lawrence's Ideas in Other Wars
16 Rethinking Lawrence and His Ideas on War
List of Abbreviations
Select Bibliography

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