A Pilgrim In Arabia.

Philby, Harry St. John Bridger 1885-1960.

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Book ID: 1669


8vo. [2], 198 pp., frontispiece portrait, 48 b/w plates, half-title, red cloth with gilt vignette on front cover, lightly soiled covers, bumped round edges, scattered foxing, heavier on half title page and endpapers, otherwise copy in good condition, Robert Hale Ltd, London, 1946.


This series of essays were first published as a limited edition in 1943 by Golden Cockerel Press.
In the Introduction, Philby writes: “the Arabs resent the tendency of the Christian West to claim, and by its greater military might, achieve control over the Islamic lands of the Middle East.” Account of a journey that began in 1931. ‘The chapter describing the Mecca pilgrimage was the first authentic personal record by an Englishman of the ceremonies as practised today. There followed a chapter on Madina, and others – one describing a holiday in Persia – which must have proved of exceptional interest to travellers and students of foreign life and affairs.’ (Cockalorum 154).
As he states in his autobiography, he “became something of a fanatic” and “the first Socialist to join the Indian Civil Service” in 1907, and was posted to Lahore in the Punjab in 1908. He acquired fluency in Urdu, Punjabi, Baluchi, Persian, and eventually Arabic languages. Philby married Dora Johnston, his first wife, in September 1910, with his distant cousin Bernard Law Montgomery as best man. He also later married an Arab woman from Saudi Arabia. He had one son, Kim Philby, later a British intelligence agent infamous as a double agent for the Soviet Union, and three daughters.
Some authors have summarised Philby as a British traitor and an anti-Semite. They suggest Philby never forgave the British government for ending his civil service career (due to sexual misconduct). Once recruited by MI6, according to these authors, Philby used his intelligence assignment to take revenge on the British government. With the extensive contacts he acquired as a British agent, Philby continued to betray British policy and resist all efforts at creating a Jewish homeland throughout his life. Philby disclosed classified British intelligence to Ibn Saud (King of Saudi Arabia) during wartime; he secretly helped secure American oil concessions in Saudi Arabia, double-crossing British competitors; he created economic partnerships, allied against British interests and in favor of Nazi Germany, with the help of Allen Dulles (later CIA Director); and Philby worked with Nazi intelligence to sabotage efforts at creating a Jewish homeland.

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