Review: Seven Pillars of Wisdom–A Triumph

5 Star, Biography & Memoirs, Culture, Research, Insurgency & Revolution, War & Face of Battle

Lawrence$4 extra avoids abridgement,October 9, 2008

T.E. Lawrence

I own an original first edition (and did not realize its value until recently), but in searching for this book to add a link from within my new book on Irregular Warfare: Waging Peace, I realized the reader is faced with two choices today, one costing $4 more than the other. I believe I found the explanation in the less expensive version, which is described as “severely abridged.” So all things being equal, buy this version instead.

There is no finer summary of this work that I have encountered in my literature search than “T.E. Lawrence And the Mind of An Insurgent” by James J. Schneider, Ph.D., a professor of military theory at the School of Advanced Military Studies, U.S. Command and General Staff College, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. Previously published in 2005 in varied works, it can be easily found online by searching for the author and title.

My preliminary research for the new book shows that the Lieutenant Colonels/Commanders and some Colonels/Captains of the Navy get it, but the flags do not. Even the vaunted counterinsurgency handbook avoids dealing with three realities:

1. Absent a moral legitimizing strategy that includes a commitment to sufficiency of presence, no occupation will succeed.

2. Absent a national intelligence community willing and able to jump deep into Multinational, Multiagency, Multidisciplinary, Multidomain Information Sharing and Sense-Making (M4IS2), no commander will succeed.

3. It costs asymmetric irregular warriors $1 for every $500,000 they force us to spend with our present idiotic emphasis on technology as a substitute for both thinking and human presence. They can keep this up forever, we cannot.

IMHO, Dr. Schneider's distillation is utterly brilliant, and if the publisher issues a new edition, I urge the publisher to obtain permission to include Dr. Schneider's distillation as a new professional preface.

Although I have a very very large personal library (photo at, here are the books I bought today as part of my homework. In the comment I provide the URLs for the pieces I have had printed locally.

Modern irregular warfare: In defense policy and as a military phenomenon
The Limits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism
Counterinsurgency and the Global War on Terror: Military Culture and Irregular War (Stanford Security Studies)
Asymmetric Warfare: Threat and Response in the 21st Century
Guerrilla Warfare: Irregular Warfare in the Twentieth Century (Stackpole Military History Series)
The U.S. Army/Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Field Manual
Never Surrender: A Soldier's Journey to the Crossroads of Faith and Freedom
Kill Bin Laden: A Delta Force Commander's Account of the Hunt for the World's Most Wanted Man

Two other books I already own within my ten link limit:
War of the Flea: The Classic Study of Guerrilla Warfare
Learning to Eat Soup with a Knife: Counterinsurgency Lessons from Malaya and Vietnam

And everything written by H. John Poole, but especially Tactics of the Crescent Moon, Phantom Soldier, One More Bridge to Cross, and Tiger's Way. Also Col Hammes on Sling and Stone, Mao and Che, Max Manwaring's various works including Search for Security, Uncomfortable Wars, and Environmental Security….and on, and on, and on….IRWF is finally “in” now we just have to spend ten years waiting for the current flags to retire.

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