SWIRE, Joseph.

Bulgarian Conspiracy.

London: Robert Hale Limited, 1939 Stock Code: 145554
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First edition, first impression, surprisingly uncommon on the open market, especially so with the attractive dust jacket. This is an important account by one of the leading British Balkanists of a turbulent period in modern Bulgarian history, focusing on the Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organisation (IMRO), the Zveno Group, and one of its leaders, Colonel Damian Velchev.

The Zveno Group was a small political organization that formed a brief dictatorial regime in Bulgaria (1934-35) "and was composed primarily of radical civilians, who had become disillusioned with a government hampered by military domination, irresponsible political parties, and uncontrolled terrorist activities" (Encyclopaedia Britannica). IMRO was one of the groups that Zveno successfully suppressed.

Joseph Swire arrived in Sofia in October 1932 as the accredited correspondent for Reuters and The New York Times. "In 1934 Swire became well acquainted with Damian Velchev for whom he rapidly formed a deep admiration and a strong personal friendship. When Velchev fell from power in 1935 and was then arrested Swire became his defender, and so energetic was this defence that at the end of the year the Bulgarian authorities refused to renew Swire's residence permit. In 1936 the expelled journalist conducted a passionate campaign to prevent the carrying out of the death sentence passed on Velchev that spring. Three years later Swire published his Bulgarian Conspiracy, a vitriolic attack on those whom he considered responsible for the persecution of Velchev and for Bulgaria's sufferings" (Crampton).

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Octavo. Original red cloth, gilt-lettered spine, front cover with gilt slogan and Totenkopf device of the Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organisation. With dust jacket, artwork by "Rus".


Half tone frontispiece and 15 similar plates from photographs, 4 illustrations in the text, 2 full-page maps and one folding map.


Jacket spine toned, overall dust-marking, nicks, chips and closed tears, binding variably sunned, top edge of bookblock dusty, yet still very good; this a review copy, with the publisher's review slip (giving publication date of 17 April 1939) and with some five pages marked up in red ballpoint pen.


Richard J. Crampton, "Joseph Swire and Bulgaria: Some Notes Towards a Redefinition" in Nineteenth Century Bulgaria in American Travel Accounts (Sofia, 1988).


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