Monday, September 24, 2007

JOHN CHUCKMAN REVIEW: JANET WALLACH'S DESERT QUEEN

REVIEW OF JANET WALLACH'S DESERT QUEEN BY JOHN CHUCKMAN, February 23, 2005


This book should be required reading for all students of affairs in the Middle East, as well as for students of the great pageant of the British Empire. Here is the story of the remarkable woman who helped create modern Iraq.

Gertrude Bell was brilliant, gifted in languages, and ferociously brave. Ms. Bell travelled across deserts, climbed mountains, made contributions to archeology, served as an important intelligence source and an unusual diplomat, smoked in public, and sat as an equal with many fierce desert chieftains.

Her understanding of the Arabic people was sounder in many ways than the mystical nonsense of Lawrence of Arabia, a much better known figure.

I cannot call this a great book, for Janet Wallach is less than a great writer, but this is a good book on an important and neglected subject. Wallach brings us many interesting details of Gertrude Bell's extraordinary life.

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