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Gertrude Bell: Queen of the Desert, Shaper of Nations

af Georgina Howell

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6861833,702 (3.69)43
She has been called the female Lawrence of Arabia, which, while not inaccurate, fails to give Gertrude Bell her due. She was at one time the most powerful woman in the British Empire: a nation builder, the driving force behind the creation of modern-day Iraq. Born into privilege in 1868, Bell turned her back on Victorian society, choosing to read history at Oxford and going on to become an archaeologist, spy, Arabist, linguist, author, poet, photographer, and mountaineer. She traveled the globe several times, but her passion was the desert--her vast knowledge of the region made her indispensable to the British government during World War I. As an army major on the front lines in Mesopotamia, she supported the creation of an autonomous Arab nation for Iraq, promoting and manipulating the election of King Faisal to the throne and helping to draw the borders of the fledgling state.--From publisher description.… (mere)
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Viser 1-5 af 18 (næste | vis alle)
I wanted to know more about how the middle east was carved up after WWI, and this book told part of the story. d ( )
  Eye_Gee | May 8, 2017 |
I really enjoyed this book. I didn't really know anything about Gertrude Bell before I read this book. She was a fascinating woman. She traveled alone across Arabia. In many ways she was a head of her time. Yet, in many ways she was a product of her time. She would not marry when her father refused to give her permission. She was an independent women yet she was against giving women the right to vote. ( )
  nx74defiant | Dec 23, 2016 |
And that then is my reason for connecting this review with that of Gertrude Bell’s biography. For indeed, how do you begin a biography? Especially with a woman who has lived such a life? A woman who once used to be more famous than T.E. Lawrence (who was a good friend actually), who travelled the Middle East, at a time when women rode side saddle (she had an apron sort of garment made to cover her pants), who climbed mountains (taking off her skirt to do so!), who was daring and brave and adventurous – at a time when women tended to keep to the home.

“Constrained and compartmentalised at home, in the East Gertrude became her own person.”

Howell does a great job piecing together her life, from letters, from other accounts of her, from the many works Bell wrote, essentially to figure out:

“By what evolution did a female descendent of Cumbrian sheep farmers become, in her time, the most influential figure in the Middle East?”

A gung-ho spirit, a fierce determination, wit and charm helps. As does knowing the right people! If you’re in the mood for a biography, may I suggest this one. Gertrude Bell, she astounds me.
( )
  RealLifeReading | Jan 19, 2016 |
Energetic life of the remarkable Bell, avidly trekking through the lands of Arabia, ticking off high Alpine peaks as a mountaineering pioneer, midwifing the state of Iraq after the Ottoman collapse as confidante of King Faisal, assembling antiquities from the ancient civilisations of Mesopotamia. All without neglecting her own emotional life, all well conveyed in her spirited letters. ( )
  eglinton | Nov 28, 2015 |
It was - remarkable. Apart from being an inspiring story of a woman who eschewed the constraints of a male dominated political and social scene, this is the inside story of the creation of the nation of Irag, and the sorry tale of early western involvement in Middle Eastern politics. Bush and Blair and their cronies would have done better to have read this and learnt something from Bell's nuanced view of Arab politics and culture before setting out on their childish adventures - but that presupposes that they could read - which in Bush's case might be doubted. The ordinary reader, however, will be rewarded. ( )
  nandadevi | Jul 22, 2015 |
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Georgina Howellprimær forfatteralle udgaverberegnet
Middleworth, BethOmslagsdesignermedforfatternogle udgaverbekræftet
Zabini, AlessandroOversættermedforfatternogle udgaverbekræftet
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She has been called the female Lawrence of Arabia, which, while not inaccurate, fails to give Gertrude Bell her due. She was at one time the most powerful woman in the British Empire: a nation builder, the driving force behind the creation of modern-day Iraq. Born into privilege in 1868, Bell turned her back on Victorian society, choosing to read history at Oxford and going on to become an archaeologist, spy, Arabist, linguist, author, poet, photographer, and mountaineer. She traveled the globe several times, but her passion was the desert--her vast knowledge of the region made her indispensable to the British government during World War I. As an army major on the front lines in Mesopotamia, she supported the creation of an autonomous Arab nation for Iraq, promoting and manipulating the election of King Faisal to the throne and helping to draw the borders of the fledgling state.--From publisher description.

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