August 16, 1888: T.E. Lawrence is born.
He earned the name "Lawrence of Arabia" for his participation in the 1916-1918 Arab Revolt against the Ottoman Turks. Lawrence’s exploits have, of course, been exaggerated by later accounts, but he did play an important role in several battles, including the captures of Aqaba and Damascus (later depicted in Lawrence of Arabia). Lawrence is best remembered for his actions during World War I and his image as a “gentleman adventurer”, but he remains a contradictory and controversial figure. Although his own supposedly autobiographical accounts made him into an icon, he also wrote of himself:
I’ve been and am absurdly over-estimated. There are no supermen and I’m quite ordinary, and will say so whatever the artistic results.
Prior to the war, Lawrence was an archaeologist who immersed himself n Arab culture; after World War I broke out, he was sent to Cairo because of his knowledge of the regions and languages, but it was not until after the war that he achieved celebrity status, thanks in part to the efforts of Lowell Thomas. Later, he also took part in the Paris Peace Conference and the 1921 Cairo Conference, where his previous acquaintance Faisal was chosen by the British as the first King of Iraq. And, although his efforts came rather too late, he lobbied to restrain European influence in the Middle East, to limited effect.