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A poem by Rabindranath Tagore is the epigraph at the beginning of Georgina Howell’s biography of Gertrude Bell:

We are all the more one because we are many

For we have made ample room for love in the gap where we are sundered.

Our unlikeness reveals its breath of beauty radiant with one common life,

Like mountain peaks in the morning sun.

Bell, an English woman born in 1880, was a linguist, archeologist, author, poet and Arabist. She worked tirelessly on behalf of the Arab cause during World War I and helped establish a free and independent Iraq at that war’s end.

I compare her efforts toward...


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