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SYKES, Christopher.


"The German Lawrence".

Availability: In stock

Published: London Longmans, Green and Co., 1936

Stock Code: 130260

OR On display in 100 Fulham Road


First edition, first impression. Wilhelm Wassmuss arrived in Bushehr in 1909 as German vice-consul; "The British had little doubt that he was really an intelligence officer a striking looking man, who spoke fluent Persian and Arabic, he had travelled widely among the tribes of southern Persia, with some of whose chiefs he was on the closest terms. Physically tough, and capable of being ruthless, his credentials for fomenting trouble could hardly have been bettered"(Hopkirk, On Secret Service East of Constantinople, p.63), and in the years leading up to war he enjoyed great success in encouraging tribal revolts against the British in the region. When war began, Sir Percy Cox was appointed chief political officer with the Indian Expeditionary Force, masterminding the army's political relations with Mesopotamia, and encouraging the resistance of Ibn Sa'ud, thus initiating another of the personal "duels" that seem to have characterised the Great Game across all times and theatres.
Wassmuss continued in his activities and "so worrisome did he become that the British violated Persian neutrality in efforts to arrest him. When they failed Cox even offered a reward for Wassmuss - alive or dead. The Foreign Office, however, was horrified at the prospect of political assassination and the idea was suppressed Sir Percy, however, had a measure of revenge. Later, when India had occasion to ask him if there was not something to be done to stop Wassmuss, he could only reply, 'The risk which we incur of exciting the abhorrence of His Majesty's Government together with the inability of the Indian Government to authorize any practical form of support to Haidar Khan after his abortive endeavour to arrest Wassmuss, render it very difficult to do anything which would have effect" (Olson, Anglo-Iranian Relations During World War I, p. 71 note). After 1916 Wassmuss's influence waned as it became clear to tribal leaders that a German victory over the British was not guaranteed. He received almost no recognition back in Germany after the war, and returned to Bushehr in 1924 intending to set up a farm and repay local tribal leaders from the profits; the farm failed and he returned to Germany, dying in poverty in 1931. Uncommon, particularly so in the jacket.

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Octavo. Original cream cloth, spine lettered in green, top edge green. With he typographic jacket, printed in black and green.


Map endpapers, 12 photographic plates including frontispiece, of which 7 by Robert Byron.


Very pale toning with the occasional tiny spot of foxing to the text-block, else very good indeed in unclipped jacket, just a touch tanned at the spine and edges of the turn-ins, small patch of pinkish colour transfer from another book at the lower tip of the front panel, head of spine crumpled, no loss.


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