Sunday, January 27, 2013

Five top books on guerrillas

Max Boot is a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. His latest book is Invisible Armies: An Epic History of Guerrilla Warfare from Ancient Times to the Present.

One of his five best books about guerrillas, as told to the Wall Street Journal:
Lawrence of Arabia
by Jeremy Wilson (1989)

Few guerrillas have been more famous or more mysterious than T.E. Lawrence. Jeremy Wilson does much to demystify him in this exhaustively researched text, which is a surprisingly brisk read despite its 1,188 pages. Lawrence's story was extraordinary: He went from working as an obscure archaeologist in Syria to acting as the key adviser to the Arab Revolt against the Ottoman Empire from 1916 to 1918. After the war, he became famous as "Lawrence of Arabia" (an appellation coined by a Chicago newspaperman), wrote a classic book ("Seven Pillars of Wisdom"), and as an adviser to Winston Churchill at the Colonial Office helped redraw the map of the Middle East. But, recoiling from his fame, he enlisted under an assumed name in the Royal Air Force and then the Royal Tank Corps. Like all great romantic heroes, he died young (at 46), in a motorcycle accident. Controversy about him has raged ever since: Was he gay? Was he mad? Was he a compulsive liar? Wilson offers as definitive an answer to these questions as we are likely to get.
Read about another book on Boot's list.

--Marshal Zeringue