For his history thesis at Oxford, Lawrence resolved to study the Crusader castles of Syria, alone and on foot and at the height of the brutal Middle East summer. It was a 1,200-mile walk that carried him into villages that had never seen a European before—certainly not an unaccompanied European who, at 5-foot-4, looked to be all of 15—and it marked the beginning of his fascination with the East. “I will have such difficulty in becoming English again,” Lawrence wrote home amid his journey, sounding much like any modern college student on a junior year abroad; the difference in Lawrence’s case was that this appraisal proved quite accurate.

-Scott Anderson ‘World War I: 100 years later – The true story of Lawrence of Arabia‘ Smithsonian



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