Fred Crawford provides the first examination of all parties and points of view embroiled in the controversy generated by Richard Aldington’s 1955 biography of Lawrence of Arabia.
While researching Lawrence of Arabia: A Biographical Enquiry, Aldington had made major discoveries, including the extent to which Lawrence had cooperated in the creation of the "Lawrence legend." For this and other reasons, he concluded that Lawrence was a charlatan, a poseur, and a fraud. A powerful group including B. H. Liddell Hart, Robert Graves, and A. W. Lawrence worked behind the scenes to suppress and denigrate the biography and to influence Aldington’s publisher to force him to make changes to the manuscript before it was published.
Crawford demonstrates that an influential clique with money and power can damage the reputation of a book even before people have had an opportunity to read it. That Aldington’s findings were nearly suppressed reveals how little freedom of the press can mean when a book displeases influential people with positions—or myths—to maintain.
Crawford is the first to compare the viewpoints of the three major factions involved in the controversy. Correspondence by and interviews with many involved directly in the dispute among the three contending parties—Aldington, his publisher, and the opposition coordinated by Hart— make it possible for the reader to know more about the affair than did any of the parties directly involved.