Revered or reviled, Gertrude Bell was a commanding figure: scholar, linguist, archeologist, traveller and "orientalist". Belonging to the tradition of the great British Middle East enthusiasts of the early 20th century, she explored the Ottoman Empire during and after World War I and was hugely instrumental in the post-war reconfiguration of the Arab states in the Middle East. She was a prime mover in drawing up Iraq's boundaries and establishing a constitutional monarchy there with a parliament, civil service and legal system; she was influential in creating a state which had all the trappings of independence while remaining a virtual British colony. This book offers a contribution to the study of Bell's colourful life - exploring the personal passions, desires and relationships that drove her - as well as to an understanding of the creation of a country so central to the instability of today's Middle East.
Using various sources, including Bell's own diaries and letters, Liora Lukitz provides a portrait of this influential character and the tragedy, vulnerability and frustrations that were key to her quest for both a British-dominated Middle East, and relief from the torture of her romantic failures.