'IRAQ IN WAR TIME, CIRCA 1918, WITH DOZENS OF PHOTOGRAPHIC ILLUSTRATIONS OF IRAQ AND SAUDI ARABIA DURING WORLD WAR I
PHILBY, Harry St. John Bridger. 'Iraq in War Time. Basrah, Iraq: Government Press, circa 1918. Slim folio (10 by 13-1/2 inches), original gilt-stamped pictorial green cloth. $4200.
Second edition of the first Western book to be published on Iraq and Najd (a region encompassing the center of Saudi Arabia), lavishly photo-illustrated with a section of Saudi Arabian photographs taken by Harry Philby.
This photographic survey of Iraq and Saudi Arabia is divided into four parts: 1. "Groups and Portraits," featuring a wide variety of Arab leaders and British officers, often in formal seated poses; 2. "Local Events," featuring cultural and religious events, local workers and artisans, and entertainment such as horse racing; 3. "Views," concentrating on Iraq; and 4. "A Tour Through Central Arabia," including pictures taken by a British officer touring the Najd region of Saudi Arabia with an Arab escort. The last section is arguably the most valuable, as it deals with Revenue Commissioner for British Occupied Territories Philby and mission to Ibn Saud in Riyadh in 1917. Philby was involved in the leadership dispute for the role of "King of the Arabs" between Ibn Saud, a chieftain promoting Wahhabism, and Hussein bin Ali, Sharif of Mecca, who led the Hashemites and the Arab Revolt. Philby's strong support of Ibn Saud (who he viewed as a "democrat") contrasted with the official British position supporting Hussein bin Ali. Accompanied by Col. F. Cunliffe Owen, Philby left Baghdad on October 29th and stopped in Basra, where he bought a camera and paraphernalia for developing film. Philby arrived in Riyadh on November 30th where he conducted several days of diplomatic discussion before continuing on to Jedda. He shot and developed these photographs during his trip. Philby was elevated to Minister of Internal Security in Mandatory Iraq and later to chief head of the Secret Service in Mandatory Palestine, before ultimately being forced to resign over the question of Jewish immigration. Philby had maintained a close advisory relationship with Ibn Saud throughout this time. He was committed to creating a single Arab government controlling the entire Arabian peninsula. However, Philby's clandestine communications with Ibn Saud were discovered to have bordered on espionage. Philby left the government and became Ibn Saud's chief advisor as well as an oil executive, which allowed him deeper influence in the Middle East for much of his life until a dispute with Ibn Saud's successor resulted in his exile to Lebanon. Second edition, published shortly after the first, with slightly altered organization and a new three-page section on the Imam Husayn Shrine in Karbala, Iraq. Text in English and Arabic. With twelve 8-by-6 photographic cards of Indian sites and views laid in by a former owner.
Faint occasional foxing, a few small spots of marginal wormholing, a couple of marginal closed tears, only light soiling to binding and slightest rubbing to extremities. An extremely good copy.