By Al Hemingway North Vietnamese general Vo Nguyen Giap once told a French diplomat that his “fighting gospel” was the Seven Pillars of Wisdom by T.E. Lawrence, the British officer who served as an adviser to the Arabs during World War I. The Frenchman was puzzled about the connection between desert warfare in North Africa and jungle fighting in Vietnam. Giap was quick to point out that Lawrence’s autobiography was about guerrilla leadership, not about the terrain in which guerrilla warfare was waged. Giap would enjoy great tactical success against French and American forces in the ensuing years, with Lawrence’s handy advice always nearby. In his new book, Guerrilla Leader: T.E. Lawrence and the Arab Revolt (Bantam Books, New York, 2011, 332 pp., photographs, notes, index, $28.00, hardcover), military historian James J. Schneider has written a captivating account of the life of Lawrence, a young Englishman who developed a unique strategy that many insurgent leaders, like Giap, embraced in rebellions in their respective countries. Thomas Edward Lawrence was born in 1888, the illegitimate son of Sir Thomas Chapman and Sarah Junner, his governess. They took the name Lawrence, moved to Wales, and sent him to school, where he graduated with honors. At the outbreak of World War I, Lawrence, who was now a second lieutenant in the British Army, was given the task of surveying the Negev Desert in Palestine because of its strategic importance. Using his razor-sharp intelli


$2 / Month

Subscribe now for only $3.99 $2 a month!

Unlimited Website Access, Thousands of Searchable Articles, Warfare Newsletter, and more.

Back to the issue this appears in