Gertrude Bell : Queen of the Desert, Shaper of Nations
by Georgina Howell
Editor: Farrar Straus Giroux
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A wonderful tale of an adventurous life of great historical significance, She was called the wife of Lawrence of Arabia, who, while not inaccurate, fails to give Gertrude BellShe was both the most powerful woman in the British Empire: a nation builder, the driving force behind the creation of what is now IraqBorn in 1868 in a world of privileges, Bell turned his back on Victorian society, choosing to read history at Oxford and went on to become an archaeologist, spy, Arabist, linguist, author (of the Persian Photos, The Desert and the Seam, and many other collections), poet, photographer and legendary mountaineer (she took off her skirt and climbed the Alps and in her underwear)She has traveled the world many times, but her passion is the desert, where she traveled with only her guns and her servantsHis vast knowledge of the region, his indispensable Cairo intelligence office of the British government during the First World WarShe informed the Viceroy of India; then, as a military commander, she traveled on the front lines of MesopotamiaThere she supported the creation of an autonomous structure of the Arab nation for Iraq, promoting and manipulating the election of King Faisal to the throne and helping to draw the borders of the nascent stateGertrude Bell, well said and impeccably documented by Georgina Howell, is a rich and convincing portrait of a woman who transcended the restrictions of her class and time, and in doing so, created a remarkable and enduring”there is never a dull moment in the peerless life of this pioneer of character”Kirkus Reviews
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