PALGRAVE, William Gifford. Narrative of a Year's Journey through Central and Eastern Arabia (1862–63) … Third Edition. London and Cambridge, Macmillan & Co., 1866.
Two volumes, 8vo. Original green illustrated cloth, lettered and blocked in gilt; pp. xii, [ii], 466. [advertisements]; [iv], 398, [2, advertisements], with a portrait-frontispiece of the author, retaining tissue guard, folding map of Arabia hand-coloured in outline and four folding plans; extremities a little worn, apart from light toning and repaired tears to map, a very good and clean copy.
William Gifford Palgrave (1826–1888) began his career in the East as an infantry officer in India. His involvement with the Arab World began in the autumn of 1853 when he travelled to Syria. There he adopted the Arab way of life and became especially close to the Maronite community. In 1862 he set off to Arabia on a fact-finding mission for Napoleon III, who sought information on the Arab attitude towards France and on the possibility of obtaining pure Arabian blood-stock for breeding purposes. From Gaza Palgrave travelled across to Jawf, Ha'il, Riyadh, Hufuf and Katif where he embarked for Qatar and thence to Sharjah via the Persian coast. He then zigzagged to Bander Abbas, returning via Sohar and Muscat. Palgrave was 'the first westerner to cross Arabia by an approximately diagonal route (from the north-west to the south-east). Travelling among the Wahabbis, he was in considerable danger, should he be detected as a European. Once, at Ha'il, he was recognized as having been seen at Damascus, and at Riyadh he was suspected and accused of being an English spy, but his skill at disguise, coupled with his presence of mind and good fortune, secured his safety. Palgrave returned to Europe in late 1863 and wrote [the present work], a classic of Arabian travel literature' (Oxford DNB).Volume II contains a history of Riad, the Wahabite dynasty, as well as a picture of life at Katar, Bahrain, Oman and Mascat.