Traces of Travel.
Brought Home from Abroad.London, Quartet Books, 1983 Stock Code: 141812
NotesFirst edition of this account of service in the Middle East in World War Two. An appealing presentation copy, inscribed to an officer who saw action in the Western Desert, receiving the Military Cross in 1942: "For Desmond, Gerald de Gaury March 1983". The two would have met when de Gaury was in Arab liaison with SOE in Cairo and on the staff of the British Minister of State.
Desmond McVeagh Reynolds (b. 1919) served as Lieutenant Acting Captain, first in the Indian Armoured Corp and then in the 2nd Royal Lancers during the Western Desert Campaign in Egypt and Libya. His bookplate is affixed to the front pastedown of this copy.
Gerald Simpson Hillairet Rutland Vere de Gaury (1897-1984) was a British officer, Arabist, diplomat, and explorer who was intimately involved in the political events leading to the creation of the Arab states in the mid-20th century. He was commissioned second lieutenant Hampshire Regiment in August 1914 and fought on the Somme and at Gallipoli, where he was wounded four times and awarded the Military Cross. While convalescing he taught himself Arabic, leading to employment as a soldier-diplomat across the Middle East, during which he became close friends with the ruling families of Iraq, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia. During his lengthy visits to King Ibn Saud as special emissary, he would join the King on hunting trips in the desert, and became one of the first non-Muslims to enter the interior of the Arabian Peninsula and visit Riyadh, albeit under Royal escort and disguised in Arab dress. His extensive knowledge of the topographical, political, and religious sensitivities in the Middle East, coupled with his natural charisma and personal charm, led to a role in British intelligence operations in Arabia during the Second World War, where he commanded the Druze Cavalry in a campaign against the Vichy French in Syria, with Wilfred Thesiger as his deputy, and accompanied Prince Faisal on his visit to the UK in November 1943. After the war de Gaury continued his travels across the Middle East, negotiating copper and mineral exploration rights in Muscat and Oman and, at the age of 65, advised the Yemeni Prime Minister at his cave stronghold during the Yemeni Civil War. "During his extensive travels in Arabia, he not only learned fluent Arabic but came to deeply love the people and the region, which he photographed, painted and later wrote about" (Blanch).
Traces of Travel is de Gaury's final book and features a selection of vignettes from his life, covering much of his time in the Middle East. Characteristically for this enigmatic man, the specifics of his assignments are withheld, but he provides vivid portraits of figures such as Ibn Saud, Abdallah of Trans-Jordan, Gertrude Bell, Regent Abd al-Ilah of Iraq, and Lord Wavell, and many others. It was published one year before his death.
Octavo. Original black boards, titles to spine in silver. With the dust jacket.
11 photographs and 12 sketches by de Gaury.
Very slight lean to spine, corners gently bumped, binding firm, top edge lightly stained, contents clean throughout; a near-fine copy in the jacket, spine lightly toned, but entirely free from chips and nicks, the covers clean and bright.
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