Aaronsohn’s Maps: The Untold Story of the Man Who Might Have Created Peace in the Middle East

Written by Patricia Goldstone
Review by John R. Vallely

Those critics who ridicule novelists for creating action heroes with talents and lives that transcend those of the average person will do well to examine the biography of Aaron Aaronsohn. A Jew living in British-controlled Palestine, Aaronsohn did indeed live the type of life associated with Indiana Jones and James Bond. The turbulence of the breakdown of the Ottoman Empire in the First World War gave Aaronsohn the opportunity to operate an intelligence network which played a not inconsiderable role in assisting Allenby in taking Jerusalem from the Turks. His sister, Sarah, apparently won T.E. Lawrence’s heart and may have been one of the few lights that pierced the darkness surrounding Lawrence of Arabia. Aaronsohn’s real importance lay in his mapmaking abilities and the brain that allowed him to see the critical importance water would play in Arab-Jewish relations. His maps and the documentation that supported them have been lost, but Goldstone theorizes that they continue to play a central role in contemporary Middle Eastern affairs.