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Guerrilla Leader
Cover of Guerrilla Leader
Guerrilla Leader
T. E. Lawrence and the Arab Revolt
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Reclaiming T. E. Lawrence from hype and legend, James J. Schneider offers a startling reexamination of this leader’s critical role in shaping the modern Middle East. Just how did this obscure British junior intelligence officer, unschooled in the art of war, become “Lawrence of Arabia” and inspire a loosely affiliated cluster of desert tribes to band together in an all-or-nothing insurgency against their Turkish overlords? The answers have profound implications for our time as well, as a new generation of revolutionaries pulls pages from Lawrence’s playbook of irregular warfare.

Blowing up trains and harassing supply lines with dynamite and audacity, Lawrence drove the mighty armies of the Ottoman Turks to distraction and brought the Arabs to the brink of self-determination. But his success hinged on more than just innovative tactics: As he immersed himself in Arab culture, Lawrence learned that a traditional Western-style hierarchical command...
Reclaiming T. E. Lawrence from hype and legend, James J. Schneider offers a startling reexamination of this leader’s critical role in shaping the modern Middle East. Just how did this obscure British junior intelligence officer, unschooled in the art of war, become “Lawrence of Arabia” and inspire a loosely affiliated cluster of desert tribes to band together in an all-or-nothing insurgency against their Turkish overlords? The answers have profound implications for our time as well, as a new generation of revolutionaries pulls pages from Lawrence’s playbook of irregular warfare.

Blowing up trains and harassing supply lines with dynamite and audacity, Lawrence drove the mighty armies of the Ottoman Turks to distraction and brought the Arabs to the brink of self-determination. But his success hinged on more than just innovative tactics: As he immersed himself in Arab culture, Lawrence learned that a traditional Western-style hierarchical command...
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Excerpts-
  • Chapter One Chapter One

    Arrival

    All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that all was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dream with open eyes, and make it possible. This I did. —T. E. Lawrence, Seven Pillars of Wisdom

    In the fall of 1946, two men sat facing each other across a green, felt-clad library table.1 The location was Hanoi, in French Indochina. The first man was General Raoul Salan, sent as part of a diplomatic mission to negotiate the return of French authority to the land that would be known to history as Vietnam. The other man gazing across from Salan was the wily Vietnamese guerrilla leader Vo Nguyen Giap. The leaders conducted a wide-ranging discourse that lasted several hours into the waning afternoon. Toward the end of the meeting, discussion turned toward Giap’s success in resisting the Japanese occupation of Indochina since 1940. Salan wanted to know the source and inspiration of Giap’s success. Without hesitation, Giap reached behind his seat and withdrew from a shelf a heavy book and laid it before Salan, who recognized the author immediately. Giap gestured toward the book, saying, “My fighting gospel is T. E. Lawrence’s Seven Pillars of Wisdom. I am never without it.”

    Salan became intrigued and wondered aloud how a book about guerrilla warfare in the desert could possibly find expression in the jungles of Vietnam. “Ah,” Giap replied. “Is that your assessment of Lawrence?” Salan nodded a casual affirmation: “Of course.” “Then you have missed the whole point of Lawrence,” said Giap. “He is less about fighting a guerrilla war than leading one. And leadership,”Giap emphasized, “is applicable in any context: desert or jungle, military or civil.” Perhaps, thought Salan . . . but the hour was growing late and there was much work to be done. In parting, the two vowed to continue the dialogue about Lawrence and his leadership at the next opportune time, but that time would never arrive. In the end, Giap would continue his application of Lawrence’s methods against an even more implacable foe than the French; the United States would learn—and forget—many of the same lessons as the French, though the outcome would be the same.



    Like many notable leaders, T. E. Lawrence appears to have been a child prodigy. He could read before he was five. Recollections of family and friends describe an active boy who enjoyed running and climbing trees. He was also “frightfully bossy; he used to order us about, but in a very nice way.” There was also a sense of aloofness, another leadership quality: of being in a group, but also above it. Lawrence was never good at group games, not because he disdained their irrelevance, but because he had to be the leader in all things. The element of aloofness was perhaps reinforced by a pervasive aura that “there was always something he was not satisfied with, even as a child . . . a secret something of unhappiness.”

    When the family relocated to Oxford, they moved into a redbrick, typically Victorian home at 2 Polstead Road in a middle-class neighborhood on the outskirts of town. In this new environment, Lawrence began to develop and demonstrate key qualities of a dynamic military leader: extraordinary energy, personal courage, profound curiosity, keen powers of observation, and an aptitude for novelty and innovation.

    The powerful amalgam of energy, courage, and curiosity became the lifelong source of...

About the Author-
  • James J. Schneider was formerly Professor Emeritus of Military Theory at the School of Advanced Military Studies, USACGSC, Ft. Leavenworth. A recognized international expert in his field, Schneider has taught and written extensively on military theory, having helped develop some of the key theoretical and pedagogical underpinnings to contemporary operational art for a new generation of military officers. Schneider is currently a military consultant with a global think tank.

Reviews-
  • Kirkus

    September 1, 2011

    A military theorist at the School of Advanced Military Studies looks closely at Lawrence of Arabia's self-styled conversion into an effective guerrilla leader.

    Young, brash, well-schooled and smitten with a romantic idea of Arab culture, T.E. Lawrence (1888 –1935) began to fashion himself in "Arab skin" fairly soon after arriving in the Middle East in 1909 to work on his Oxford University thesis on the Crusades. He learned Arabic and worked on archaeological digs in Turkey and in strategic intelligence in Palestine in 1913. With the outbreak of World War I, Britain's policy in the region was to "detach the Arabs from the Turks," in order to bring about the demise of the ailing Ottoman Empire. Though Lawrence often witnessed "an arrogance of power wedded to an ignorance of culture" on the part of the British, he aided the British as a necessary step to Arab independence. When the Arab revolt erupted in 1916, Lawrence, with his knowledge of Arab culture and language, became indispensable to the British as a staff officer and diplomatic conduit. But Lawrence learned quickly that the traditional Western military style of leadership did not suit the Arabs, and during a long hallucinatory spell of sickness, which Schneider elaborates on as conveying "a flash of genius," Lawrence clarified in his mind the means of guerilla warfare—wear down the opponent by exhaustion rather than annihilation, and by the employment of small, effective "clouds of raiders." His empathy was key to leadership success, and Schneider takes us through skirmishes at the port of Aqaba, the battle of Tafileh and eventual march to Damascus in 1918. The author bestows on Lawrence the supreme compliment of being an "autonomous leader," and deeply probes his conflicted sense of helping the Arabs while also being a "fraud" in upholding British imperialism.

    A keen psychological study that aims at honing leadership skills via example.

    (COPYRIGHT (2011) KIRKUS REVIEWS/NIELSEN BUSINESS MEDIA, INC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.)

  • Library Journal

    November 1, 2011

    When U.S. forces began their years of battle in the Middle East in 2001, Schneider (military theory, emeritus, Sch. of Advanced Military Studies, U.S. Army Command & General Staff Coll., Ft. Leavenworth) began an intensive study of the successful Arab insurgency against Turkish rule led by T.E. Lawrence in World War I. Lawrence led a force lacking resources and modern technology to victory through his leadership and creation of an innovative guerrilla strategy within the broader context of modern industrialized warfare. Schneider's story follows closely Lawrence's own work in Seven Pillars of Wisdom, capturing the dangerous and exhausting desert forays, harsh discomfort of battle, and moral ambiguity of leading an "Arab Revolt" as an outsider when Britain was involved in contradictory diplomacy and negotiation. Schneider asserts that Lawrence's military success stemmed from his tactical insights and leadership qualities. VERDICT Schneider's smoothly written and sharply focused book captures the role of T.E. Lawrence in the arduous campaign waged by his Arab forces but adds little to the vast shelf of books on Lawrence, given such works as John E. Mack's A Prince of Our Disorder, Michael Korda's Hero, and most especially Lawrence's Seven Pillars of Wisdom.--Elizabeth R. Hayford, formerly with Associated Colls. of the Midwest, Evanston, IL

    Copyright 2011 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Booklist

    October 15, 2011
    Given the ongoing turmoil in the Middle East, the recent revival of interest in the exploits of T. E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia) is understandable. Schneider, professor emeritus at the School of Advanced Military Studies, has not mined any new sources on Lawrence's personality or career. What he has attempted is reinterpretation of Lawrence's talents as a leader and practitioner of guerrilla warfare. Schneider examines Lawrence's formative years, when he developed scholarly interests in archaeology as well as a fascination with the military campaigns of the Crusades. Schneider also suggests that Lawrence's contemplative and solitary nature would serve him well when fate placed him in a position of military command. Since many of his Arab contemporaries claimed Lawrence's leadership resulted from control of the purse strings, Schneider seems a bit too willing to anoint his subject as a military innovator and leader. Still, Schneider has provided an interesting reexamination of a controversial and always enigmatic personality.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2011, American Library Association.)

  • Craig M. Mullaney, New York Times bestselling author of The Unforgiving Minute: A Soldier's Education Praise for Guerrilla Leader

    Guerrilla Leader provides an authoritative analysis of Lawrence's military and political achievements. Schneider gets the reader inside Lawrence's head so that you feel acutely his anxieties, musings, and doubts. Pairing a sweeping, compelling narrative of the Arab revolt with a piercing and intimate psychological portrait, Guerrilla Leader brings Lawrence to life for contemporary readers."
  • Steven Pressfield, Bestselling author of Gates of Fire "Guerilla Leader provides an important new window onto the achievements of T.E. Lawrence. Schneider's fresh and surprising portrait of Lawrence makes this remarkable figure startlingly relevant to today's world."
  • Nathaniel C. Fick, New York Times bestselling author of One Bullet Away
    "Guerrilla Leader is much more than an insightful history of a fascinating campaign. James Schneider has written a rich study of leadership and command – read it to better understand our adversaries and ourselves."
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T. E. Lawrence and the Arab Revolt
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