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A History of Persia. - SYKES, Sir Percy - 1915. 
London: Macmillan and Co., Limited,, 1915. 2 volumes, octavo. Original blue cloth, spines lettered in gilt, covers ruled in blind, with large gilt blocks of Cyrus and Shah Abbas to front, top edges gilt. Frontispiece to each and 178 other plates, 4 of them coloured, one of these folding, 7 folding colour maps of which 2 wall-size in end-pockets, title-page vignettes, headpieces, numerous illustrations to the text. Hunting bookplate of Francis White to the front pastedowns. Spines sunned, some very light rubbing to extremities. An excellent copy. First edition of this highly influential history by one the great scholar-administrators, whose considerable literary output and lengthy firsthand experience of the country established his reputation as "an authority on Persian history, geography, and customs" (ODNB), and earned him the Royal Geographical Society patron's gold medal in 1902. Although it was intended in large part as a manual for British officers, Sykes's History contains much that has since become historical currency. Sykes first became interested in the Persia and the Great Game at a young age, and made his first visit to the country in 1893, a six-month trip on horseback. He returned later that year entrusted with building relations with local leaders, and spent until June 1894 producing maps and surveys, as well as climbing the extinct Kuh-e Taftan volcano. Later that year he became the first British consul for Kerman and Persian Baluchistan. With Thomas Holdich he demarcated 300 miles of the Perso-Baluch frontier in 1896, over the next year introduced polo to Tehran, in 1898 founded the British consulate of Sistan and Kain, on the Afghan border. After service in the South African War in moved to Mashhad in 1905 and was appointed consul-general for the government of India in Khorasan. For the next eight years he produced annual trade reports, collected Russian intelligence and dealt with Shi'ite pilgrims from India, and gathered material for his History, which was several times reprinted and reached a third edition by 1930, but this first edition is uncommon, far more lavishly illustrated than subsequent editions, and is by far the most handsome.
[Bookseller: Peter Harrington]
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