Presented by the Hall Center for the Humanities
“Lawrence in Arabia”
At the Paris Peace Conference at the end of World War I, a young British colonel repeatedly warned against his government’s plan to divide the conquered lands of the Middle East into imperial spheres of control. For his trouble, the colonel was finally banished from Paris, the carving-up went ahead as planned – and disaster struck almost precisely as he had foretold. That officer was T.E. Lawrence, better known as “Lawrence of Arabia,” and today the world continues to live with the consequences of his ignored warning.
This talk will partly be about the life and exploits of T.E. Lawrence, with a focus on why he was uniquely able to foresee the terrible mistake the West was to make in the Middle East. It will also bring that history forward to the present day. Over the past year, veteran war correspondent Scott Anderson has made four extended trips to the Middle East to compile an in-depth report on the Arab Spring revolutions, which will appear in a special issue of the New York Times Magazine on August 14. In the course of these journeys, he’s been on the frontlines of the war in Iraq, interviewed captive ISIS fighters, and chronicled the stories of a disparate group of people whose lives have been forever changed by the events of the past five years. It is Anderson’s intention to not only show how so much of the current turmoil and tragedy of the region has its roots in bad decisions made nearly a century ago, but to also discuss where the crisis is likely to go next.
Scott Anderson is a veteran war correspondent who has reported from Lebanon, Israel, Egypt, Northern Ireland, Chechnya, Sudan, Bosnia, El Salvador and many other strife-torn countries. A frequent contributor to the New York Times Magazine, his work has also appeared in Vanity Fair, Esquire, Harper’s and Outside. He is the author of novels Moonlight Hotel and Triage and of non-fiction books The Man Who Tried to Save the World and The 4 O’Clock Murders, and co-author of War Zones and Inside The League with his brother Jon Lee Anderson.