: New: Book Report: Lawrence and Aaronsohn

It's Armistice Day today, so here's a book about World War I. Specifically, it's about Lawrence of Arabia and Aaron Aaronsohn who I guess you might call, uhm, Aaronsohn of Palestine. The subtitle of this book ends with "...and the Seeds of the Arab-Israeli Conflict" and it's a sad book to read with 80 years' hindsight. At the end of the book, we're at the WWI armistice and the Great Powers are divvying up the middle east, drawing a bunch of straight lines that have led to so many wars. It didn't have to turn out that way and like an excitable person at a horror movie, you keep wanting to yell, "No, don't go in there!"

But it's an interesting book, full of tales of derring-do. I'd already heard a bit about Lawrence's guerilla stuff, but this was my first time reading any details. (I was glad to read about them in a book not written by Lawrence, since I'd heard he wrote some deliberate fibs, working on propaganda in hopes of making things work out better in the region. Sigh.) I hadn't heard of Aaron Aaronsohn and his amazing sister Sarah, but that story might be even more interesting: he used his credibility as a scientist to wander around and be a spy; she ran an espionage network. So there's travel and signalling systems and bribery and late-night boats offshore letting off stealthy swimmers and... And it's good stuff. Meanwhile, you can see how the political machinations went and weep for the soul of humanity. The author, Ronald Florence knows how to keep this stuff interesting. Check it out.

Tags: book graft

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