Prologue: The Foundations of the Arab Revolt – The Clashing Jealousies
“Some Englishmen, of whom Kitchener was chief, believed that a rebellion of Arabs against Turks would enable England, while fighting Germany during the First World War, simultaneously to defeat Germany’s ally Turkey.
Their knowledge of the nature and country and power of the Arabic-speaking peoples made them think that the issue of such a rebellion would be happy, and indicated its character and method.
So they allowed it to begin, having obtained for it formal assurances of help from the British government. Yet, nonetheless, the rebellion of the Sherif of Mecca came to many as a surprise, and found the Allies unready. It aroused mixed feelings, and made strong friends and strong enemies, amidst whose clashing jealousies its affairs began to miscarry.”
Part I: The Decay of the Ottoman Empire
“The Ottoman Empire was dying of overstrain, and of the attempt, with diminished resources, to hold on traditional terms the empire bequeathed to it.”
“The Arabs were a people of primary colors, or rather of black and white. They despised doubt, our modern crown of thorns. They knew only truth and untruth, belief and unbelief.”
Part II: Fire and Reason
(The momentous meeting between Lawrence and Emir Feisal of Arabia, which lent new impetus to the Arab Revolt.)
“I had believed the misfortunes of the Arab Revolt to be due to faulty leadership, or rather the lack of leadership, Arab and English. So I went down to Arabia to see and consider its great men. The first; the Sherif of Mecca, we knew to be aged: I found Abdulla too clever, Ali too clean, Zeid too cool. Then I rode up-country to Feisal, and found in him the leader with the necessary fire, and yet with reason to give effect to our science. His tribesmen seemed sufficient instrument, and his hills to provide natural advantage. So I returned pleased and confident to Egypt and told my superiors how Mecca was defended, not by the obstacle of Rabegh, but by the flank-threat of Feisal in Jebel Subh.”
Part III: Blood
“Blood was always on our hands: we were licensed to it. Wounding and killing seemed ephemeral pains – so very brief and sore was life with us. With the sorrow of living so great, the sorrow of punishment had to be pitiless. We lived for the day and died for it. When there was reason or desire to punish, we wrote our lesson immediately with gun or whip on the sullen flesh of the sufferer. The desert did not afford the refined slow penalties of courts and gaols. What now looks wanton or sadic, seemed in the field inevitable, or mere unimportant routine.”
Part IV: The Evil of My Tale
“Some of the evil of my tale may have been inherent in our circumstances. For years we lived anyhow with one another in the naked desert, under the indifferent heaven. By day the hot sun fermented us, and we were dizzied by the beating wind. At night we were stained by dew, and shamed into pettiness by the innumerable silences of the stars. We were a self-centered army without parade or gesture, devoted to freedom, the second of man’s creeds, a purpose so ravenous that it devoured all our strength, a hope so transcendent that our earlier ambitions faded in its glare.
As time went by our need to fight for the ideal increased to an unquestioning possession. We had sold ourselves into its slavery, manacled ourselves together in its chain-gang, bowed ourselves to serve its holiness with all our good and ill content. The mentality of ordinary human slaves is terrible, -they have lost the world – and we had surrendered, not body alone, but soul to the overmastering greed for victory. By our own act we were drained of morality, of volition, of responsibility, like dead leaves in the wind.”
Part V: The Agonies, The Terrors, and The Mistakes (The Torture at Deraa)
“We no doubt enjoyed the rare moments of peace and forgetfulness, but I remember more the agony, the terrors and the mistakes. Our life is not summed up in what I have remembered (there are things not to be repeated in cold blood for very shame) but what I have written was in and of our life. Pray God that men reading this tale will not, for love of the glamour of strangeness, go out to prostiture themselves and their talents in serving another race (land).”
“Deraa! Deraa was a city of cruelty and vice. It was in Deraa that the citadel of my integrity was irrevocably lost…”
Part VI: Fortune Favored the Bold Player
“Rebellion was the gravest step that political men could take, and the success or failure of the Arab Revolt was a gamble too hazardous for prophecy. Yet, for once, fortune favored the bold player.”
Part VII: The Final Stroke – Red Victory!
“The Arab Revolt tossed up its stormy road from birth, through weakness, pain and doubt, to Red Victory!”
Epilogue: Disillusion, Death, and the Final Liberty of the Afro-Asian Peoples
“I had dreamed of hustling into form, while I lived, the New Asia which time was inexorably bringing upon us.”
“The victory at Damascus was the just end to an adventure that had dared so much, but after the victory there came a slow time of disillusion, and then a night in which the fighting men found that all their hopes had failed them. Now at last, may there have come to them the white peace of the end, in the knowledge that they achieved a deathless thing, a lucent inspiration to the children of the Arab race!”