Iraq in War Time
Iraq in War Time
Iraq in War Time

[PHILBY, Harry St John Bridger]. Iraq in War Time.

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[PHILBY, Harry St John Bridger]. Iraq in War Time. Basrah, printed and engraved at the Government Press, [1919].

Folio. Original green cloth, front cover illustrated and lettered in gilt (in English), rear cover lettered in Arabic; pp. [104] hundreds of photographic illustrations, text in English and Arabic; minor rubbing to the binding in places only, one double page with tearl at inner margins, internally clean and fresh.
This is the first edition of the first photographic book ever printed about Iraq and Central Arabia (Najd). It comprises four sections: 1- Groups and Portraits. 2- Local Events. 3- Views. 4- A Tour Through Central Arabia. The last section contains the first ever printed photographs of Najd area in Saudi Arabia. This is an intriguing document of Iraq during the Great War, with excursions into Central Arabia, making this 'the first photographic book to appear on Najd' (Badr El-Hage). In 1918 Harry St John Philby ended his service with the British administration in Baghdad from 1915 to 1917 by travelling through the interior of the Arabian peninsula as head of a mission to Ibn Saud. During the nine-month journey of the Nejd he travelled some 4000 kilometres. He selected from over 600 photos taken in preparing this rare and beautiful publication. The second edition is most likely merely a re-issue of the original sheets of 1918 with a different colour of cloth chosen for the binding. The volume is divided into four sections of photos: Groups and Portraits, Local Events, Views and A Tour through Central Arabia. One photo shows 'the tourist' (Philby) amidst his Arabic-British escort.
The Arabist, explorer, writer and British colonial intelligence officer (spy) known as Jack Philby or Sheikh Abdullah was stationed during the First World War with the British Mesopotamian Expeditionary Force in Baghdad, which organized the Arab revolt against the Ottoman Empire and secured the oil flields of the Shatt al Arab and Basrah for the needs of the Navy. He was sent on a mission to Ibn Saud, whom he favoured as the future King of the Arabs. He later became an important mediator between the house of Ibn Saud and Western oil companies. His travels earned him in 1920 the Royal Geographical Society Founder's Gold Medal for his journeys in Arabia.
See Badr El-Hage, Saudi Arabia: Caught in Time, 1861-1939, p. 95.

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