With a Description of Ibn Saud

(Bell, Gertrude). The Arab of Mesopotamia. [And:] Asiatic Turkey.

Basrah, Superintendent Government Press, [1917].

12mo. (6), 202 pp. With a map frontispiece. Original green cloth with gilt lettering to upper cover.


First edition.

In 1918 Gertrude Bell was the local agent of the Arab Bureau in Basra and contributed many articles to the Arab Bulletin. She is credited with writing the second part of this book, "Asiatic Turkey", and at least two articles in the first part are written by her. As a central figure in the establishment of the modern state of Iraq, no European could have been better placed to contribute to this collection of essays: some concern the British occupation of parts of Mesopotamia during the First World War, while others are ethnographical, such as the short but fascinating description of the Sabaeans. The fifth chapter, "A Ruler of the Desert", describes the visit of Ibn Saud to Basra on 27 November 1916, when he met British officials and local Sheikhs, and witnessed an exhibition of the latest military technologies. A short account of his early life and rise to power is also given, along with a memorable and awestruck physical description: "He is a man of splendid physique, standing well over six feet, and carrying himself with the air of one accustomed to command" (p. 47).

Mild bubbling to back cover, slight lean to text-block, otherwise very good.