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Perspectives: Wilson and Korda on The Legacy

Conflicting assessments of Lawrence’s legacy by Jeremy Wilson and Michael Korda.

From Jeremy Wilson’s “T.E. Lawrence Studies” website:

“Thus it is clear that Lawrence was in no way responsible for the modern frontiers in the Middle East. The only enduring trace of his political influence — the Hashemite dynasty in Jordan — was hardly a triumph of statesmanship. It was a pragmatic solution which, like so much else in politics, sought to make a virtue of necessity.”

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From Michael Korda’s Hero: The Life and Legend of Lawrence of Arabia, 2010:

“Lawrence worked in the Middle Eastern Department of the Colonial Office for just over a year, yet in that short time he not only managed to help create the borders of modern Iraq, and place his friend Feisal on its throne as its first king, but also managed to create a kingdom in all but name for Feisal’s brother Abdullah in what was then known as Trans-Jordan and later became the Kingdom of Jordan. ...

“Lawrence was, in fact if not in title, a proconsul, making major decisions on his own, and explaining them later to the person who seemed most likely to approve. Lawrence later wrote to Robert Graves unusually, for him, ‘I take most of the credit of Mr. Churchill’s pacification of the Middle East upon myself. I had the knowledge and the plan. He had the imagination and courage to adopt it.’ This was, as it happened a bold but accurate claim: Lawrence had a central role in shaping the borders of the modern Middle East and in placing Hashemite monarchs on the hitherto nonexistent thrones of Iraq and Jordan.”