ADMIRALTY WAR STAFF INTELLIGENCE DIVISION. Handbook of Mesopotamia. Volume I. General [Volume II. Irak, the Lower Karun, and Luristan … Provisional Issue. Volume III. Central Mesopotamia with Southern Kurdistan and the Syrian Desert. Volume IV. Northern Mesopotamia and Central Kurdistan]. [London], Admiralty War Staff, Intelligence Division, August, 1916-April, 1917.
Four volumes in guide-book 8vo. Original flexible pebble-grained wallet-style bindings with press studs [volume 2, cloth over boards], lettered in gilt; a few plates after photographs, 6 (of 7) colour-printed folding maps (two in rear pockets, the one in volume II, the Provisional Issue, not included); one press stud missing, a little rubbed and worn; volume two with worming at beginning and end, volume IV with a few plates with traces of humidity and a few flaws; a complete four-volume set of a legendary rarity.
First edition. After Townshend's catastrophic defeat at Kut in April 1916 the Mesopotamia Commission of Inquiry was set up, and the Admiraly was convinced that only good intelligence about the available infastructure, man and animal power, as well as mineral and agricultural resources in still Ottoman Iraq was vital for a possible advance into these territories. These handbooks correct existing sources of information and maps, and analyze the country's physical and economic geography. - Volume two, the Provisional Issue, is bound for office use, the others are in the flexible field-issue bindings. We once saw an interleaved volume of this series in the publisher's office binding with many pencil notes and additional information, based on further reading, including Gertude Bell, and actual reconnaissance. The editor's note reads Maps to accompany these volumes will be issued separately. Maybe the 'missing' map for the Provisional Issue had not been finished in May 1917.
COPAC lists only three complete sets in British Libraries, at UCL, Nottingham University, and in the British Museum.