Wisdom and Wars

My first copy of Seven Pillars of Wisdom,T.E. Lawrence’s epic account of leading a Bedouin guerrilla force against the Turks in the First World War, was a stolen one. It was I who stole it. At the time—it was in 1973—my wife and I were living in a rented apartment in Haifa whose owner had left us a few furnishings that included a small bookcase. One book caught my eye immediately. A large, deluxe volume, it had a brown cloth binding with a stamped leather spine and heavy, brown-tinted pages whose signatures or “gatherings,” as they are called by printers, were uncut. Using a razor blade, I sliced my way carefully past the title page, a dedicatory poem, a lengthy table of contents, and a brief introduction, and came to Chapter I. Its first sentences were:

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About the Author

Hillel Halkin, who lives in Israel, is the author of six books (his latest, Jabotinsky: A Life, will be published by Yale University Press in spring 2014) and a noted essayist and translator.



Sergei Nirenburg on December 9, 2013 at 10:55 am
What a great historical essay. I have been reading Mr. Halkin's work for many years and each time come away enlightened and uplifted - not only by the content and the scholarship evident but also, very centrally, by the sparkles of wisdom and the uncommonly elegant literary style. This piece probably started as a book review but grew so much broader and deeper than one. Delightful. If Mr. Halkin reads this: would you be interested in having some of you work translated into Russian and published in one of the Russian-language literary journals in Israel?
gwhepner on December 14, 2013 at 2:51 pm
They call him Lawrence of Arabia, yet
he told Abdullah he agreed the Jews
should be allowed their homeland tents to set
west of the Jordan, territory he’d lose.

Abdullah told him what the British lion
proposed he would accept, quite clearly willing
to give the whole West Bank to Jews of Zion,
not zealously addicted to their killing.

By Lawrence Rudyard Kipling was appalled,
describing him as being too pro-Yid,
which Lawrence hardly minded being called,
not only pro-Arabia, God forbid.

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