by Andrew R. B. Simpson
Stroud, Glouc., Eng.: The History Press / Chicago: Independent Publishers Group, 2012. Pp. 206.
Illus., maps, plans, appends., notes, biblio, index. $24.95 paper. ISBN: 0752463586
The surprisingly productive final two decades of T.E. Lawrence’s life.
Pretty much all books about T. E. Lawrence concentrate on the “of Arabia” part of his life. But as the title of this work points out, for the nearly two decades from the end of WW I until his death in a motorcycle accident in 1935, he had “another life.”
Shunning public adulation, yet happy to hobnob with, and pull strings among, the great and powerful, Lawrence used assumed names to serve in the RAF, then the Royal Tank Corps, and finally for many years in the RAF once more. Lawrence played a role in designing crash boats, target boats, and flying boats for the RAF, had ties to the famous Schneider Cup races, and much more.
During this same period, in addition to serving in uniform, he had a busy and surprisingly productive literary life. Not only did he produce his masterwork, The Seven Pillars of Wisdom, but also The Mint, a controversial book on the RAF, a prose translation of The Odyssey that is still in print, and several other works.
In Another Life, Simpson, an historian of the RAF, explores not only these accomplishments, but also Lawrence’s interactions with his comrades in the services, and with the notables of his day, giving us a deeper look into the man. An excellent read for anyone interested in this rather enigmatic hero.