This balanced study of a man whose character and achievements have been much debated is based on a review of virtually every published and unpublished English source in British and US libraries and archives, including the important archive of Lawrence's letters and papers in the Bodleian Library. Part I discusses Lawrence's life in a conventional chronological sequence. Part II is devoted to enduring themes: his living and spending habits; his relations with family members and friends; and the elements of genius and madness, honesty and evasiveness, vanity and humility, and masochism, in his nature.
The late Harold Orlans contributed to Minerva, The American Scholar, Change, Biography, and The Journal of the T.E. Lawrence Society, and was the editor of Lawrence of Arabia, Strange Man of Letters, of which a reviewer said that he has "shown us..., better than in all the biographies, the pulsing heart of Lawrence." He lived in Bethesda, Maryland.