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Military Report on the Sinai Peninsula. (With Notes on the Turkish Frontier Districts and the Wadi Araba.) Route Reports, Report, etc. Prepared by the General Staff, War Office.
London: Harrison & Sons, 1914 - Large sextodecimo (190 ×124 mm). Original buff card wrappers, lettered in black to front. Spine chipped at extremities, wrappers spotted, "59" inscribed to front wrapper in blue pencil, contents clean: an excellent copy of a fragile publication. Folding 2-colour map to end-pocket. First edition of Lawrence's first sole-authored book, one of the black tulips in his canon, with no copies in auction records, two in British and Irish institutional libraries (Durham and the Ministry of Defence Library), and four in libraries world-wide (the Huntington and three libraries in Australia); the British Library has two copies of the map and another copy of a 1916 reprint. Marked "for official use only", a number in the imprint slug suggests that 1,700 copies were printed, but judging from the rate of survival it is likely that the majority of run was never issued and subsequently pulped, probably because until 1916 the Egyptian Expeditionary Force was occupied with defending the Suez Canal from irregular Ottoman and German raids (and often simply the threat thereof); it was only with the appointment of Lieutenant-General Archibald Murray as EEF commander-in-chief that it was decided that "going on the offensive and seizing control of the Sinai Peninsula from the Ottoman Turks" would be the best strategy of securing the canal ("Sinai Campaign", New Zealand History, online). A pencilled number to the front wrapper of this copy indicates that it was copy number 59. From January to February 1914 Lawrence was with Leonard Woolley in the Negev, conducting a clandestine military survey under archaeological cover, the results of which were published as The Wilderness of Zin. After returning to England, and being refused enlistment into the army owing to his height, he joined the Geographical Section of the General Staff in London as a second lieutenant. When the Ottoman Empire entered the war at the end of October he expected to leave immediately for Egypt, but was first required to compile a road report on Sinai at the request of Lord Kitchener, even though he had never visited the peninsula's southern reaches, and expressed his reservations in a characteristic letter to archaeologist E. T. Leeds: "I'm writing a report from the military point of view of a country I don't know, and haven't visited yet One of the minor terrors is, that later on I'm to guide myself over the country with it" (Wilson). The report took Lawrence a month to complete and contained details of wells, gradients, telephone lines, Turkish outposts and much other information. Although it contained only imperfect information on the recently constructed Ottoman road network, it was "the major resource for commanders and staff officers" in the EEF and was later recalled by intelligence officer Walter Gribbon as "the most comprehensive and up-to-date" British handbook on Sinai at that time (Goldstone, Aaronsohn's Maps: The Untold Story of the Man who might have created Peace in the Middle East, p. 132). Lawrence finally travelled to Cairo in December, and at the age of 26 was the youngest member of Gilbert Clayton's Department of Intelligence, the precursor to the Arab Bureau. After the capture of Akaba in 1917 Lawrence, as he had predicted, relied on his report to make the 160-mile journey back to Suez. O'Brien A009; Wilson, T. E. Lawrence [catalogue for 1988-9 exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery], 83. [Attributes: First Edition]
      [Bookseller: Peter Harrington. ABA member]
Last Found On: 2017-09-23           Check availability:      AbeBooks    

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