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Turning away from the privileged world of the "eminent Victorians," Gertrude Bell (1868–1926) explored, mapped, and excavated the world of the Arabs. Recruited by British intelligence during World War I, she played a crucial role in obtaining the loyalty of Arab leaders, and her connections and information provided the brains to match T. E. Lawrence's brawn. After the war, she played a major role in creating the modern Middle East and was, at the time, considered the most powerful woman in the British Empire.
In this masterful biography, Janet Wallach shows us the woman behind these achievements—a woman whose passion and defiant independence were at odds with the confined and custom-bound England she left behind. Too long eclipsed by Lawrence, Gertrude Bell emerges at last in her own right as a vital player on the stage of modern history, and as a woman whose life was both a heartbreaking story and a grand adventure.
“A major figure in the creation of modern-day Iraq.” —Los Angeles Times
“Desert Queen, as timely as today's headlines, plucks Gertrude Bell out of the shadow of Lawrence of Arabia.” —The Boston Globe
“Wallach has done an outstanding job of bringing Gertrude Bell to life.” —The Dallas Morning News
“A richly textured biography of a . . . woman who devoted her life to knowing the desert Arabs better, perhaps, than any other European of her day. . . . Wallach comfortably commands the tangled political and diplomatic history of the Middle East.” —Chicago Tribune