"For official use only"

[Lewis, Bernard]. A Handbook of Diplomatic and Political Arabic.

[London, 1945].

8vo. 72 pp. Publisher's black pebblegrain cloth, title lettered to upper board.


First edition, published anonymously. Contains an English-Arabic and an Arabic-English vocabulary as well as sections on Arabic honorifics, civil ranks and titles, and a note on the term "caliph".

The academic and intelligence officer Bernard Lewis (1916-2018) obviously "drew on his experiences during the war, when he worked for MI6 and met officials and diplomats during his travels in the Middle East, about which very little detailed information exists in the public realm (though we learn that at the end of the war he was in Cairo). This book contains vocabulary in current diplomatic and political usage, and, given the inevitable changes that time brings to such highly specialised vocabulary, it is of historical interest as a record of what has now vanished. He explains that it is intended as a supplement to the standard Arabic-English and English-Arabic dictionaries. The book also adds glossaries of honorifics, civil ranks and titles and an appendix of terms used by the United Nations" (Hillenbrand).

OCLC locates two copies at SOAS and Temple. A very good copy of this little-known work.


C. Hillenbrand, "Bernard Lewis", in: Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the British Academy XIX (Aug. 2020), p. 249.