I'm sure the story of Lawrence is a familiar one to many people, but I hadn't been well informed on the Ottoman front for WWI. When I picked up this book, I thought it would be wider in historical scope, focusing on the "Making of the Modern Middle East" part of the title -- I thought it would start with Lawrence and move on from there. I instead found myself reading a detailed military history of WWI in the Ottoman theater, and I don't usually go for straight military history. But this one was really well written and readable. It focuses on Lawrence, of course, but it's a group biography, including American oil interests, the Zionists of that time, and a German spy to tell the story in context. I really appreciated the full context and what I perceived to be responsible story telling. I found the inner conflicts in several major players, but most notably Lawrence intriguing. This is one of my favorite books of the last year. I learned a great deal and found a lot to discuss. The author only touches lightly on what the the consequences of these actions are in today's middle east, but it was enough to give me a good background and to discuss many what-ifs with those around me. The story was much more interesting than I knew it to be previously, and the book was fantastic.