Through his swashbuckling adventures during the improbable Arab Revolt of World War I, T.E. Lawrence developed a unique philosophy for working with developing peoples. He then embarked on a heroic effort, harnessing his celebrity to force the British to keep the promises they made to their Arab allies.
Lawrence famously said of British efforts to further Arab self-rule: “Better to let them do it imperfectly than do it perfectly yourself, for it is their country, their war, and your time is short.” He applied his extensive knowledge of the Arab world to a political vision for nation building in the Middle East whose insights continue to resonate today. In the end, however, Lawrence’s efforts to stop Western powers from carving up the Middle East at Versailles fell tragically short, laying the foundations for the ongoing instability in that region.
Weaving together a gripping historical narrative of Lawrence’s dramatic Middle East adventures and his surprisingly astute political thinking, foreign policy expert John Hulsman reveals a different Lawrence and gives a bold new voice to this tragic hero.
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Praise for To Begin the World Over Again:
"The fate of empires seems inevitably linked to their persistent desire to impose their cultures and systems on foreign soil. Employing the endlessly fascinating story of T.E. Lawrence, John Hulsman colorfully argues from history that, if you set out to liberate other nations, it is best not to undertake to liberate them from themselves. If we learn his lesson, our Baghdad will not become Lawrence’s Damascus."-- Senator Gary Hart
"Hulsman at once tells a compelling story and identifies foundational principles for guiding U.S. foreign policy. By mining Lawrence's thinking and experiences, this timely book yields vital lessons for America's efforts at nation-building in Iraq, Afghanistan, and beyond." --Charles A. Kupchan, Professor of Government, Georgetown University and member of the Council on Foreign Relations
"Well written and engaging, this book provides a concise historical overview and much food for thought. The message is as urgent today as it was in Lawrence's era." --Library Journal Reviews
John C. Hulsman holds a PhD in International Relations and received his MA (Hons) Degree in Modern History from St. Andrews University in Scotland. A life member of the Council on Foreign Relations, he is the President of John C. Hulsman Enterprises, an international relations consulting firm, where he writes for such outlets as the International Herald-Tribune, Harper’s Magazine, and the Los Angeles Times. To Begin the World Over Again is his fifth book. He lives in Berlin.
John C. Hulsman