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PHILBY, Harry St John Bridger.

The Heart of Arabia:

A record of travel & exploration.

Constable and Company Ltd, London, Bombay, Sydney, 1922 Stock Code: 136204
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"Greatest of Arabian explorers"

First edition of Philby's first substantial work, an account of his mission, begun in November 1917, to Ibn Sa'ud, ruler of the Nejd in central Arabia, who greatly impressed him. Philby completed his crossing of Arabia by continuing by camel to Jiddah on the Red Sea. There he met the Hashemite ruler of Hejaz, the Sharif Husain, leader of the Arab revolt, the preferred option as future Arab leader of T. E. Lawrence and the British authorities.

"Few would quarrel with the inscription on Philby's tombstone: 'Greatest of Arabian explorers'. And in the central judgements of his life - that Ibn Sa'ud was the man to back in Arabia and that the Arabs had to have their independence - he was right and almost everyone else was wrong" (ODNB).

Contemporary gift inscripton to Col. William Warfield, US Red Cross commissioner to Albania after World War I, "in recognition of many kindnesses" to the front free endpaper of volume I, signature of the gifter unfortunately illegible; bookplates of Jordanian scholar Prof. Mahmud Ali Ghul to the front pastedown. Specialising in ancient south Arabian languages, he taught at SOAS, University of London, American University at Beirut and Yarmuk in Irbidf, Jordan. In the 70s he was the first to identify a class of minuscule South Arabian inscriptions found on sticks, which was used to record everyday events.

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2 volumes, octavo. Original green cloth, spines lettered in gilt and with three-line gilt rules at head and tail extending across the covers in blind, fore- and lower edges uncut.


Half-titles, 48 plates and plan, 2 folding colour maps at rear of volume II, Southern Nejd and Central Arabia.


A little rubbed, cloth on volume II rippled on the boards, head and tail of spine stiffened, front hinge professionally restored, some foxing and browning throughout, a little stronger front and back, clean tear to the Nejd map, repaired with archival tape verso, remains very good.


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