Last night at the Darien Library I got to hear Michael Korda talk about his new book Hero: The Life and Legend of Lawrence of Arabia. Korda started out with a bang with rousing quotes from people who had known T.E. Lawrence. As a fan of David Lean's epic motion picture Lawrence of Arabia, I was transfixed by what Korda had to say. I had not realized how huge a celebrity Lawrence had been in his own time. And while the movie and my parents had told me how influential his actions had been in the middle east post WWI, I got a much better picture of that from Korda's talk. Now, I can't wait to read the book.
Lawrence's actions are still influencing our lives today, as Al Qaeda and the Taliban use the same fighting tactics Lawrence taught the Arabs during the first world war. He led the Arabs to defeat a well equipped army by attacking them with "little cuts", such as blowing up train lines and then disappearing into the desert. (Sound familiar?)
As for the movie (my all time favorite -- and Korda's, too), the author told us in the Q and A session following the talk, it was only a two-year slice of Lawrence's life and could not show his full development or complexity. Korda also said that Lawrence was well regarded by the British military before he was sent out from Cairo.
Aside from hearing this amazing author speak about a great man, I was fascinated to see the age of the audience in the packed auditorium. The average age was probably the late 60s to early 70s. In our Aging In Place in Darien survey, we had learned that this age group really loves our local library and views it as a great resource. Last night proved this true. But also, I wonder how many younger people know about Lawrence or have even seen Lawrence of Arabia.
I made sure my own children saw this film because I believe it is one of the best films ever made. My son, Bob Lydecker, who is an aspiring film composer, got to see Lawrence on the big screen at a special showing in Santa Moncia, CA. He was so grateful and said it was fantastic to hear the music surrounding him in a big theater. This made me very happy.
I hope you will see the film and read Korda's book.