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The Mint concerns the period following the First World War when Lawrence decided to disappear from public view. He enlisted in the Royal Air Force under an assumed name, becoming 352087 Aircraftman Ross. The book is a closely observed autobiographical account of his experiences in the RAF. He worked from a notebook that he kept while enlisted, writing of the daily lives of enlisted men and his desire to be a part of something larger than himself: the Royal Air Force. The book covers his initial training at RAF Uxbridge in 1922 and a part of his service at RAF Cranwell, 1925-26. The book’s title likens the R.A.F. training to a coin factory, with the men as ‘The Raw Material’ and life in the training camp as being ‘In the Mill’ that stamps the coins out of the blank metal. Lawrence appears to have wanted to have his past life and fame obliterated, when he wrote “The Air Force is not a man-crushing humiliating slavery, all its days. There is sun & decent treatment, and a very real measure of happiness, to those who do not look forward or back.” Lawrence stated that the book should not be published until after his death; in note by his brother, A. W. Lawrence, who edited the text for publication, a letter from T. E. Lawrence to E. M. Forster is summarized “he felt unable to publish the book because of ‘the horror the fellows with me in the force would feel at my giving them away… Thomas Edward Lawrence (1888-1935) was a British archaeologist, military officer, and diplomat. He was renowned for his liaison role during the Sinai and Palestine Campaign, and the Arab Revolt against Ottoman Turkish rule of 1916-18. Throughout his life, Lawrence was a prolific writer.
T. E. Lawrence
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