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


by James Stejskal

Philadelphia: Casemate, 2018. Pp. xl, 186. Illus., maps, appends., notes, biblio., index. $32.95. ISBN: 1612005748

A Fresh Look at the Arab Revolt

Stejskal, a SpecOps veteran of long service, takes a look at the “Arab Revolt” of World War I, the most famous special operation of that war, and possibly of any war.

Stejskal throws considerable fresh light on the campaign. He combines careful research into documents, memoirs, letters, and the like, with military archeology, exploring the scenes of many of the actions, often apparently as the first scholar to take such a first-hand look.

In keeping with recent trends on the study of the campaign, Stejskal reminds that it was an Arab revolt, initiated by the Harshemites, albeit supported by Britain, in the person of T.E. Lawrence, who played a vital role, in conjunction with “Hedgehog Force”, a contingent of British troops and armored cars, who carried out raids into the Turkish rear in coordination with Arab forces, all backed by a substantial British administrative and logistical network. Stejskal discusses the organization, training, and operations of the British elements in the revolt, with some very good detailed maps, and shows how they affected the course of the war.

Stejskal concludes with some observations on the influence of this campaign on operations by the Long Range Desert Group and similar forces in the Second World War and on down to the present. His appendices are particularly valuable for their inclusion of some neglected documents by Lawrence and an order of battle that includes Arab forces.

Masters of Mayhem is a useful read for those interested the Arab Revolt or special operations.


Note: Masters of Mayhem is also available in several e-editions


Reviewer: A. A. Nofi, Review Editor   

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