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The Arab Bulletin
Gerrards Cross, Bucks: Archive Editions,, 1986. Bulletin of the Arab Bureau in Cairo, 1916-1919. Including indexes for 1916, 1917 and 1918, and the supplementary notes on the Middle East nos. 1-4, 1919-1920. With a new introduction and explanatory notes. 4 volumes, octavo. Original black crushed morocco-effect paper boards, spines lettered and ruled in gilt, top edges gilt, red and gold endbands. Occasional sketch-maps Corners very lightly bumped, an excellent set. Second edition (O'Brien's "first English edition"), trade issue. A complete facsimile of the Arab Bureau's secret bulletin, first issued in June 1916 with an initial circulation of 26 copies; this edition, prepared by Cambridge librarian and Arabist Robin Bidwell, the first practicably obtainable, with just one complete run of the original bulletin traced in commerce (Sotheby's, New York, 1968). The Arab Bureau was established in the spring of 1916 "to co-ordinate Middle East intelligence and to spread propaganda while countering the effects of hostile propaganda, particularly among Muslim troops" (Bidwell, introduction, p. xxiii). Previously there had been no means of co-operation between the Foreign Office, which oversaw operations in Egypt and Western Arabia, the India Office (Mesopotamia and Eastern Arabia), and the War Office (operating in areas where neither organisation had a particular remit). Lawrence served as the first editor of the bulletin and later became a contributor from the field during the Arab Campaign; other contributors included H. St J. Philby, Ronald Storrs, Gertrude Bell, who served as the Bulletin's Mesopotamia correspondent from Basra, and David Hogarth, whose archaeological expeditions provided cover for the creation of a British intelligence network across the Levant. In a retrospective in the hundredth issue of the bulletin (20 August 1918), Hogarth credited Lawrence with the original suggestion that the Arab Bureau publish a regular summary of its intelligence activities, and summarised the aims of the publication as threefold: "Firstly, it aims at giving reasoned, and as far as possibly definitive, summaries of Intelligence, primarily about the Hejaz and the area of the Area of the Arab Revolt Â… and secondarily about the other Arabic-speaking countries Â… Secondly, it aims at giving authoritative appreciations of political situations and questions in the area with which it can deal at first hand. Thirdly it aims at recording, and so preserving, all fresh historical data concerning Arabs and Arab-speaking lands, and, incidentally, rescuing from oblivion any older facts which may help to explain the actual situation: likewise, any data of geographical or other scientific interest, which may be brought to light by our penetration of the Arab countries during the present war". An indispensable resource for the Middle Eastern theatre in the First World War, and containing "the first published records by Lawrence of the Arab campaign" (O'Brien). There was also a deluxe issue of 25 numbered copies.
      [Bookseller: Peter Harrington]
Last Found On: 2016-02-27           Check availability:      Biblio    

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