T.E. Lawrence (1888-1935) - known worldwide as "Lawrence of Arabia" - was many people in one: scholar, archaeologist, intelligence officer, guerrilla leader, diplomat, aspiring writer, and ordinary serviceman hiding under aliases from the celebrity he had first largely created and then come to despise. Illegitimate, but with aristocratic connections, an outsider yet also at ease with, and much admired by, many of his finest contemporaries, he was a man forever on the run, whether as a youth searching for fresh experience and fame, or a middle-aged figure seeking sanctuary both from his reputation and from a sense of guilt, resulting from wartime experiences from which he could never break free. Deeply religious by background, sexually ambiguous and always on the edge, he craved for peace, but was also convinced he deserved punishment.
This biography is part fast-moving adventure story and part modern morality tale. It places special emphasis on the years of the desert war: the period that both made Lawrence and broke him. It also shows how the once haloed figure surrounded by hero-worship has increasingly come to be seen as a man of our time, to whom countless people can relate, not because of the fame that he acquired, but because he was prepared to relinquish it