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HOLBROOK, Frederick.

Through Turkestan and the Caucasus.

A Letter from Frederick Holbrook to his Wife.

Brattleboro, VT: E. L. Hildreth & Co., 1916 Stock Code: 143727
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First and only edition, inscribed on the title page "privately printed" and "no. 129", the total print-run unknown; one copy only traced in auction records (numbered 78); none traced in British and Irish institutional libraries. Holbrook, a construction executive from a distinguished New England family (his father, also Frederick, was governor of Vermont during the American Civil War), travelled to Petrograd in 1916 to establish a branch office of the American International Corporation, "a speculative consortium of Wall Street high-rollers boasting 50 million in start-up capital established to invest burgeoning war profits in opportunities in the same war" (Spence, Wall Street and the Russian Revolution: 1905-1925, online). His main work done, he set out on a 6,500-mile round trip across Central Asia, probably an extension of his original fact-finding mission. Leaving Moscow on 23 April 1916, he travelled by rail to Orenburg and thence across the Kirghiz (now Kazakh) Steppe to Tashkent, then rarely visited by foreigners, making brief excursions into the surrounding villages before continuing to Andijan, the terminus of the Trans-Caspian Railway, before doubling back to Samarkand and Bokhara with the aim of purchasing rugs. On 10 May he took the train for Krasnovodsk (now Turkmenbasi, Turkemnistan), the opposite terminus of the railway, and witnessed Ottoman troops on the march in Baku before continuing by the Georgian military road road to Vladikavkaz, Ossetia, and thence back to Petrograd. His observations show an admirable awareness of the ethnic and cultural diversity of regions visited, on the eve of their absorption into the Soviet Union, and are amply illustrated with attractive photographs of street scenes and architectural subjects, mainly in Samarkand and Bokhara, as well as Tashkent, Tbilisi, and environs.

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Octavo. Original pale green cloth over bevelled boards, printed paper labels to spine and within recessed panel to front board, top edge gilt, others untrimmed.


Photogravure frontispiece, 26 similar plates.


Extremities lightly rubbed, spine-label chipped and browned to no loss of text, a few pale markings to sides, plates slightly tanned. A very good copy.


Carleton, Genealogical and Family History of the State of Vermont, p. 646 (for the author).


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