The Heart of Arabia. A Record of Travel and Exploration. H. St. John Bridger Philby.
The Heart of Arabia. A Record of Travel and Exploration
The Heart of Arabia. A Record of Travel and Exploration
The Heart of Arabia. A Record of Travel and Exploration
The Heart of Arabia. A Record of Travel and Exploration

The Heart of Arabia. A Record of Travel and Exploration.

London: Constable, 1922.

First edition. Illustrated with 48 plates and a plan of Riyadh, 2 folding maps in back of vol. II. xiv, 386; viii, 354 pp. 2 vols. 8vo. Original green cloth. Near fine, bright copy (some toning to flyleaves, edges a bit foxed) Item #315477

Fascinating account of travel in Central Arabia, before the opening of the peninsula to oil exploration.

Phildby made the second crossing of the Empty Quarter, departing Ojair on the Gulf and crossing to the Red Sea port town of Jiddah. He was preceded only by Bertram Thomas who took an easier route. This work described the first part of Philby’s journey, “ending with [his] return to the Wahhabi capital after an excursion in the summer of 1918 to the provinces of Southern Najd.” He entered Riyadh on 20 November 1917, tasked with gaining Ibn Saud’s cooperation in the revolt of the Arabs against the Ottomans. Taking an instant liking to Ibn Saud, Philby came to regard him as a potential post-war leader of the Arab World, a view that conflicted with the British Government’s support of the Hashemite Shrif of Mecca. Chapters III and VII describe his time in the city and his meetings with Ibn Saud and other members of the ruling family.

Philby’s record also confirms Richard F. Burton’s suspicion of Palgrave’s account of Central and Eastern Arabia (1865). Burton was distinctly cool to Palgrave when they met. Philby proves here “beyond any doubt that Palgrave described what he never saw” (Penzer).

Philby later became a close adviser to Ibn Saud.

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