SOANE, Ely Banister. To Mesopotamia and Kurdistan in Disguise. With Historical Notices of the Kurdish Tribes and the Chaldeans of Kurdistan. London, John Murray, .
8vo. Publisher's original brown cloth, lettered in gilt to upper cover and spine, with the rarely seen dust-wrappers; pp. xvii, 421, [2, advertisements]; 9 black and white plates from photographs, one folding map; wrappers a little dusted and with slight loss at head of spine.
Revised and improved edition. An account of a journey across Syria down the Tigris to Basra. The author's fluency in Persian and a desire to avoid "European" prices suggested a journey "in disguise", made under the guise of "a native of the East". The relative ease with which this enabled Soane to travel allowed him to gain a close picture of the Kurds, notably in the course of his stay in Sulaimania, the largest city of Kurdistan. In spite of the turbulent state of affairs that met the author throughout his travels - the political mayhem, the threats to person and property, the hardships of life among an uncompromising people - Soane returns imbued with a deep respect for the Kurds. As he writes, "having met from them more genuine kindness - unclaimed - than from any other collection of strangers met elsewhere, I owe [the Kurds] a large debt of gratitude, the least return for which is to throw some light upon a national character hitherto represented as being anything but an epitome of all that is savage, treacherous, and inhuman". A gripping account of an area little covered by other writers, and one of the first books on Kurdistan, in the preferable and definitive second edition with more illustrations than included in the first of 1912, with a Soane bibliography, as well as a biographical essay about the author by Sir Arnold T. Wilson, the former civil commissioner in Mesopotamia. Soane published several papers and pamphlets on the Kurdish language, grammar, folklore, which give proof of his deep love and understading of Kurdistan and the Kurdish people.