from russia to the war office
KUROPATKIN, Aleksei Nikolaevich. Kashgariia. Istoriko-geograficheskii ocherk strany, eia voennyia sily, promyshlennost i torgovlia. Saint Petersburg, V. S. Balashev, 1879.
4to. Contemporary olive-green half-sheep over marbled boards and with raised bands, spine ruled and directly lettered in gilt, speckled edges; pp. [iv], 435, with one map in the text and large folding lithographic map, printed in four colours (c. 800 x 450 mm; with repaired tear); binding with wear to extremities, internally, apart from very light browning and a few creases to the final leaf, good and clean, map with a few minor repairs; provenance: in a typical War Office binding, and with stamps of the War Office Library (accessioned July 17, 1879) and one of the Quarter Master General's Department - Intelligence Branch - on title-page..
Scarce first edition of probably the best monograph on the Western-most city in China and its surrounding political unit, Kashgaria, which had been under Yakub Beg’s rule until May 1877, when Chinese forces established themselves in the Tarim Basin. Clearly, Russian intelligence was highly interested in that region and the town on the Silk Road, and gathered much information on the geography, military force, different ethnic groups and local rulers, as well as on the economy and political history of the region. It is no wonder that the British spy-masters had to get their hand on such a valuable source with a fine and detailed map, as Kashgar was at the crossroads of British, Russian and Chinese spheres of influence. The author and editor Kuropatkin wrote from first-hand experience. From 1875-1876, Kuropatkin was employed in a diplomatic mission to Yaqub Beg to negotiate Russian border claims in the Fergana Valley. He then was promoted to Chief of Staff of the 16th Infantry Division. In August 1879, (after this book had arrived in Britain), he was to become commander of the Turkestan Rifle Brigade, which made an 18-day march across 500 miles of desert to join General Mikhail Skobelev’s invasion of Turkmenistan. Much later, during the Russo-Japanese War he was Minister of War of the Russian Empire. Apart from very few European travellers, and spys including maybe Marco Polo, Kuropatkin's army detachment where the first Europeans to systematically explore this part of Central Asia. - The book was translated in 1882 into English and appeared in Calcutta; however, without map.
~i~No copy traced in book auction records.~ i~