Arabian Sands

THESIGER, Sir Wilfred Patrick. Arabian Sands.

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THESIGER, Sir Wilfred Patrick. Arabian Sands. London, Longmans, Green and Co Ltd, 1959.

8vo. Original cream boards, spine lettered in gilt and black, dustwrapper (price-clipped); pp. xvi, 326, [2 (blank)]; photographic frontispiece and 23 plates bearing 68 photographic illustrations recto and verso after Thesiger, 8 maps in the text after K.C. Jordan, 5 full-page, one colour-printed folding map 'The Empty Quarter from Traverses by W. Thesiger Compiled by The Royal Geographical Society 1945-50' after K.C. Jordan inserted in pocket on lower paste-down; minimal marginal abrasures and a little spotting to wrapper, very light toning to endpapers, otherwise a very good copy.
First edition. Thesiger's 'first and - in his opinion - his finest book' (ODNB). Arabian Sands recounts Thesiger's travels with the Bedu through the Empty Quarter between 1945 and 1950: 'The empty quarter or Rub’ al-Khali had been crossed by Bertram Thomas in 1931 and by Harry St John Philby in 1932. Understandably Thomas had followed the easiest route. Philby's journey, on the other hand, involved a trek of 400 miles between wells, which Thesiger regarded as an epic of desert exploration. Despite such important journeys, vast areas of the empty quarter still remained unexplored. Thesiger first crossed the empty quarter in 1946-7, a journey of 2000 miles that began and ended at Salala, on Arabia's south coast. In February 1947 he met Salim bin Kabina, a sixteen-year-old Bedu of the Rashid tribe, who, together with Salim bin Ghabaisha, also of the Rashid, became Thesiger's inseparable companion during his years in Arabia. Bin Kabina and bin Ghabaisha accompanied his second crossing of the empty quarter, in 1947-8, and his later journeys, in 1949 and 1950, in Oman' (Alexander Maitland in ODNB).
P.N. Grover, Bibliography of Works by Sir Wilfred Thesiger, p. 271.