Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Books I Doubt You've Read

Or, perhaps books you even hadn't heard about.

Like this 1979 one, The Murder of Lawrence of Arabia.

The flap description:

In March 1935 Lawrence left the RAF. Two months later he was involved in a serious motor-cycle accident near his home in Dorset. TE Lawrence died from his injuries six days later.

After his death rumours circulated that Lawrence had been murdered by foreign agents. Another story emerged that the secret service faked his death so as to allow him to undertake, incognito, important work in the Middle East. The supporters of this story believed he died in Tangiers, Morocco, in 1968.

More on the conspiracy theories.

This review noted of the book that
the plot will provide a sliver of tart, serviceable intrigue for patient and undemanding fans of fanciful conspiracy dramas.
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A more fascinating novel, providing a fictional but documentary treatment of a Mandate-period event is this book on the killing of Chaim Arlosoroff, head of the Jewish Agfency's Political Depazrtment, today's equivalent of Israel's Foreign Minister, "Wall of Glass":

The most interesting aspect, even more that the topic is the identity of the author.

Intrigued, I wrote to the publisher and eventually, received this letter:

The son of the PPF officer in charge of the investigation!

If you search, you can find Rice mentioned in contemporary reports, like this one:
[Defense Attorney Horace] Samuel demanded that the police permit him to examine the file and that both Arabs be detained as material witnesses in the present investigation. He also demanded that the weapon found, the bullets from which are said to resemble the bullet found in Arlosoroff's body, be produced. Colonel Harry P. Rice, deputy commissioner of police, present in the courtroom, declared that he was unable to comply with the demands made by Mr. Samuel, since the investigation was still secret. Magistrate Bodilly, before whom the investigation is being conducted, declared that he was unable to compel the police to comply with the requests of the defense attorney and suggested that the defense subpoena the police officers in charge of the files. Later Colonel Rice, who was placed on the witness stand, declared that Abdul Majid's testimony was full of contradictions and perhaps false. The second Arab, Issad Arwish, who allegedly fired the shot which killed Arlosoroff, was arrested in July, released some time later, and then arrested once more after Abdul Majid made his confession, the Colonel declared. Originally Abdula Majid was arrested in connection with a blood feud murder in which he killed another Arab. In jail, he told fellow prisoners that he killed Dr. Arlosoroff. Later he confessed to the police that he and Issad Arwish met Dr. Arlosoroff and his wife on the beach and that he wanted to "rape the Jewess but the Jew interfered, so I shot him." Defense counsel Samuel said in the courtroom that he believed that Colonel Rice had told him that the bullets from Abdul Majid's revolver were of the same type as that found in the body of Dr. Arlosoroff. However, Magistrate Bodilly continued with the ordinary routine examination of witnesses in the hearing, paying no attention to the revelations. Joshua Glicksman of Kfar Saba where Zvi Rosenblatt, one of the three defendants, alleges he spent the night of the murder, testified that he saw Rosenblatt in Kfar Saba- that night between 9:30 and 11 P.M.
More on his testimony.

Both a good read.


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