T. E. Lawrence began his lifelong affair with the Middle East while still a student at Oxford, taking a four-month walking tour of Syria to study the Crusaders’ castles. He later returned to the area as an archaeologist and, at the outbreak of World War I, was attached to British Army Intelligence in Egypt. In 1916 he set out on his greatest adventure: with no backing, Lawrence joined Arab forces facing almost insurmountable odds in a rebellion against Turkish domination. His brilliance as a desert-war strategist made him a hero among the Arabs and a legendary figure throughout the world, earning him the moniker “Lawrence of Arabia.” Lawrence, though, had a near-pathological dislike of publicity and thus began a life of self-imposed obscurity as T. E. Shaw, anonymous RAF soldier.
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