DUN , Major T.I. From Cairo to Siwa Across the Libyan Desert With Armoured Cars … A Narrative followed by illuminated Pages of the History and Customs of Siwa Oasis; A Narrative Followed by Illuminated Pages of the History and Customs of the Inhabitants of That Country … Foreword by Field Marshal Sir William Birdwood, Bt. Cairo, E. & R. Schindler, and John Smith & Son., Ltd., 1933.
Folio. Original cloth-backed boards, the boards decorated by the author in an elaborate desert design, incorporating all the major sights encountered on the journey, silhouetted against a black background, with the title in red, spine with black paper label, also titled in red; pp. , viii, 110, , large wood-engraved illustrations throughout, blocked in many different colours, by various artists, a folding lithographed map, delineating the route in red, a multi-coloured lithographed "street map", seen from above, with shops ("We know a town better by its Buildings and Shops than by the Names of Its Streets"), 2 mounted photographic plates on gold paper (Queen Nefertiti) and on silver paper (The Sand Dunes East of Cairo), many other photographic illustrations of the British presence in and outside Cairo, and on the journey; spine a bit darkened and label with light marginal chipping, occasional light spotting, the metallic plates with a adehesions from opposite pages (resulting in one small flaw), as usual; publisher's ornate hieroglyphic bookplate to front pastedown; calligraphic presentation inscription, dated Christmas 1933, ' … in remembrance of two most happy leaves, wandering. 1932. Haifa -Mosul. 1933. Ismailia - Wadi Halfa. (in "Ermyntrude"). - This must refer to tours in an armoured car.
First edition, limited to 750 'standard' copies only, of an extraordinary book production documenting an eccentric reconnaissance across the Western Egyptian desert with armoured Rolls Royce cars. The book design is outstanding and several Egyptian artists from the School of Applied Art in Cairo were employed, alongside British designers. Siwa Oasis is one of the most interesting places in the Western Desert, as it is mostly populated by Berbers, and same sex marriages and homosexuality are traditionally accepted. One chapter is the Story of Senoussiism, i.e. the history of Mohamed ben Ali es Senoussi and how his followers settled near Bengazi in Lybia. The book has fittingly been described by one customer as montypythonesque.
'Major Dun originally intended to write an account of the journey from Cairo to Siwa by the armoured cars of the 12th Lancers for the Journal of the Royal Medical Corps, but as the story grew under his hands and the necessity for illustrations quite beyond our scope became apparent he enlarged the article into a remarkable book, to be published entirely byEgyptian printers. Field-Marshal Sir Wllliam Birdwood has written a foreword and some idea of the character of the book can he obtained from a cursory glance throngh the prospectus which has just been issued. Many of the illustrations are magnificent and the most remarkable are those by N. Strekalowsky, who has also illuminated each page of the narrative. The author has designed the covers, and many other artists, as well as students of the School of Fine Art, Egypt, have contributed drawings. This book would make an unusual and most attractive present to any Mess. The book is divided into four parts. The first is a narrative of the journey from Cairo to Siwa and back; the second is a short history of the customs and superstitions of the Siwa Oasis and adjacent Libyan Desert. Then come photographic pages and lastly a' map drawn by Mr. J. H. Rowntree, supplementing the sketch map in the text. The armoured cars took the northern route across the Wadi Matrun desert to Burg el Arab, next marched to Mersa Matruh on the coast, then on to Sollum and south to Siwa across the desert and the sea of stones. The return journey was from Siwa direct to Mersa Matruh and then to Cairo by the route previously followed' (contemporary review in the Journal of the Royal Medical Corps).
'Schindler of Cairo … is a name usually associated with lifts and lists, but in Cairo in the 1930s and ’40s the most prominent Schindler was a printer and publisher of English- and French-language books. From a Downtown office at 41 Sharia Madabegh (now Sharia Sherif), E & R Schindler put out a variety of books on Egyptian subjects, including regularly updated guides to Cairo and Alexandria, along with what were possibly the company’s best-selling titles, Rambles in Cairo and Moslem Builders of Cairo … Schindler’s most curious book, though, was something called From Siwa to Cairo: Across the Libyan Desert with Armoured Cars ... It is not so much the subject matter – a drive across the desert to Siwa and back that took place in late 1932 – as the presentation. An officer in the XIIth Royal Lancers, Major Dun was also a man of culture. His book is part travelogue, part art book. Packaged between golden covers, the pages are embellished with deco-style page ornamentations, woodcuts by members of Cairo’s School of Fine Arts and, running along the bottom of the text, small pen-and-ink sketches of the convoy of 10 Rolls Royce armoured cars, one Leyland radio truck, three Austin Seven cars and a motorcycle making its way across the sands. The charming convoy drawings are credited to N Strekalowsky, but the book offers no further information about the artist. The expedition was completely uneventful, with no accidents or emergencies – the only action was a football match between the British soldiers and their Egyptian counterparts at Sollum' (Andrew Humphreys, Egypt in the Golden Age of Travel online).