"Who is Gertrude Bell?" I asked myself as I picked up this book.The advanced materials mentioned Arabia and T. E. Lawrence.The further I delved into this most interesting andinformative tale, the more I wondered why I had never heard of her until now.She was one remarkable woman!
At the turn of the 20th Century, she began to immerse herself in Arabian thought, culture, politics and geography, her goal being to help them shed their Ottoman Turk overseers and unify.T. E. Lawrence and WWI accelerated this movement, and Gertrude was invited to participate in the post-war discussions, which created the country that we know today as Iraq.The many Arabic factions, kings, emirs and warlords made any steps toward unity very difficult. "Unity has never been part of the Arab mind.At heart, you're a nation of individuals, of nomads, of wanderers.You and your people have never developed beyond the level of the tribe."
"Miss Bell has crafted the mold for women for all time to come.She has broken barriers once thought impassable.She has crossed borders once thought impenetrable.She has set a standard to which other women, and indeed men, must now aspire."
"There are many commanders, but only one Gertrude Bell.Your knowledge of our people, our history, and our language sets you apart from all others.Your commanders come and speak with us as though we are children.Yet people in my country and in Syria and Palestine and the land of the Druze and in Mesopotamia still speak of Gertrude Bell as the Daughter of the Desert, as a woman who understands the way in which we think ad the needs we have, caught up in a world not of our making."
Gertrude Bell was a linguist, explorer, archaeologist, diplomat.She had reached the highest position any woman had ever reached in the British civil service, she had published numerous books about her travels and archaeological discoveries, she had directed British policy in the Great War, she was fluent in six languages, had climbed unclimbable mountains in Switzerland, and a formerly-unconquered peak had been named after her, she had befriended and advised the most important men in England and the Middle East, she had been imprisoned by a tribal warlord, and now she is known as the woman who invented Iraq and the woman who is responsible for consolidating and preserving 4,000 years of history in the Baghdad Museum of Ancient Archaeology.
Alan Gold has specialized in bringing back from obscurity those fabulous but forgotten women who changed the course of their societies.
Thank you, Alan Gold.
I read this E-ARC courtesy of Edelweiss.
eBook Bell of the Desert