Sunday, November 07, 2010

Creating Chaos: Lawrence of Arabia and the 1916 Arab Revolt.


The train filled with Ottoman Empire soldiers and civilians chugged over a bridge in the Arabian desert. A few yards away a British officer in Bedouin robes raised his hand toward Salem, an Arab tribal warrior gripping the plunger of a detonator box. As the train steamed ahead, the officer dropped his hand and Salem slammed down the plunger. A cloud of sand and smoke blasted a hundred feet into the sky as sizzling chunks of iron and seared body parts tumbled through the air. The train crashed into a gorge, followed by an eerie silence. The officer and Arab tribesmen—wielding swords or firing rifles—dashed toward the smoldering train cars. Within a few minutes the fighting was over, the dead and the wreck were looted, and the raiding party melted back into the desert. It was summer 1917, and the Arab Revolt was in full swing.

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