The Passionate Spies

How Gertrude Bell, St. John (Jack) Philby, and Lawrence of Arabia ingnited the Arab Revolt.

9781951082543 , ,

Meet The Author

The modern Middle East was shaped in conflict between local tribes and Western powers that had crushing, mechanized armies and entitled, obtuse leaders. Against what they perceived as a dense wall of plain stupidity masquerading as real-politik, three British spies threw the power of their idealism and their belief in the humanity of ordinary Arabs.

They succeeded in extraordinary ways, and yet paid a heavy price. Two took their own lives. The third raised a son who became a notorious double agent in the Cold War: Kim Philby. Gertrude Bell, Jack Philby, and TE Lawrence show us how to fight wealth and power on one hand and ignorance and violence on the other—how to inject ideals into real world institutions that will improve the lives of ordinary people. Lawrence and Bell accomplished a lot and yet could never do enough and simply could not outlast the national governments who served the interests of first world wealth. Jack Philby, on the other hand, was all too successful. He enabled men in kaffiyehs to become a force in the modern world and to spread their stunning wealth among Arabs—rather than sending it to the West.



2 reviews for The Passionate Spies

  1. brenda.pierce@cunepress.com

    The Passionate Spies by John Harte is an extraordinary and thrilling read about three secret agents in Britain’s Secret Service, who organized and led the “Arab Revolt” in 1917. It gave independence to new Arab-speaking nations in the Middle East and founded oil-rich Saudi Arabia. The colourful characters of spymaster Gertrude Bell (the first female officer in the British Army), the legendary “Lawrence of Arabia,” and the astute traitor St. John Philby (father of the notorious KGB double-spy Kim Philby) are all so dynamic that their heroics are hard to believe, but nevertheless true and soundly researched by a perceptive author who depicts them for us in stylish prose. I found it hard to put down with its thrilling twists and turns and surprises, and amazing characters.

    —Steve Harris, America’s Secret History

  2. brenda.pierce@cunepress.com

    The current war in Syria has dwarfed all serious academic study of the pre-Ba’ath era. This has left a new generation of scholars with no new literature about the formative years of the Syrian state, which the notable exception of James Barr’s highly acclaimed A Line in the Sand (2011). This is why John Hart’s new book is important, shedding light on British conspiracy—and agents—who shape the modern Middle East. It focuses on the careers and contributions of three individuals, Gertrude Bell, John Philby, and TE Lawrence, better known as Lawrence of Arabia. Skeptics will argue that they have been studied in the past, but never in one book, however, and not with the hindsight of 100-years, packaged in a gripping manner that will appeal to 21st century readers.

    —Sami Moubayed, historian and founding chairman of The Damascus History Foundation

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *