Masters of Mayhem: Lawrence of Arabia and the British Military Mission to the Hejaz

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There have been so many books on Lawrence of Arabia that one may think another bearing his name could not contribute to an already saturated field of study. After World War I, Lawrence withdrew into obscurity and did not participate in correcting the historical record surrounding his achievements and the Arab Revolt. This allowed authors to pen works that ranged from glorification to damnation, blending fact with fiction. A century later, a new group of historians has gingerly taken up the quest to uncover the real characters and events that shaped events in the Hijaz during WWI. Of all the books written about Lawrence of Arabia, only this one and Schneider’s Guerrilla Leader (2011) that are written by military insiders and focus on his military tactics and achievements.

The book primarily focuses on “Hedgehog,” the British command responsible for supporting, advising, and coordinating the revolt in an innovative fashion. This special-forces operation employed the most advanced technology of the era: mobile artillery, armored cars, aircraft, radios, and demolitions. To focus only on Lawrence of Arabia does not do justice to the supporting personnel with their diverse expertise, who made Hedgehog possible and highly successful. The book rightly includes these contributors, and there is a chapter titled “Advisors, Dromedaries and Guerrilla Warfare” that adds more to the support Lawrence received.

The book starts with a background on the Arab Revolt and transitions into British special-forces operations in the Middle East. The major emphasis is on the importance of a detailed campaign and excellent intelligence. The narrative then extends the Middle Eastern experiences to make the case that these methods formed the basis for modern special forces used in other conflicts and in other parts of the world where troops had to prevail when outnumbered. An informative read that will be enjoyed by both the specialist and general reader.

Reviewed By:

Author James Stejskal
Star Count 4/5
Format Hard
Page Count 304 pages
Publisher Casemate
Publish Date 2018-Aug-02
ISBN 9781612005744
Amazon Buy this Book
Issue January 2019
Category History


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