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Handbook of Abyssinia (1917)

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C.B. 447, Copy No. 60


The extremely rare 1917 edition of volume one of the British Naval Staff Intelligence Division Handbook of Abyssinia. (The second volume was not published until 1922). Classified as secret, and with a very restricted, individually numbered circulation, this handbook was produced during WW1 for official use only. This is copy number 60, one of the earliest to be produced. Its use was covered by the Official Secrets Act. It is a very detailed and comprehensive survey of all that was known at the time about the topography, peoples, administration, military forces, colonial influences, customs, climate, religions, railways, transport, agriculture, natural resources, and industry of Abyssinia in 1917. The handbook contains several appendices, including a bibliography, military information, 156 pages of vocabularies and grammar summaries of Amharic, Tigrinya, Galla and Somali; and a military interrogation phrase book. Handbook of Abyssinia is an invaluable reference work for anyone interested in this region during the First World War.

Naval Staff Intelligence Department: The Naval Intelligence Division (NID) was created as part of the Admiralty War Staff in 1912, and was the intelligence arm of the British Admiralty before the establishment of a unified Defence Intelligence Staff in 1964. It dealt with matters concerning British naval plans, and with the collection of naval intelligence. It was also known as "Room 39", after its room number at the Admiralty. The department produced a series of handbooks during WW1 to aid the allied war effort and provide intelligence for officers in all branches of the armed services.


In very good condition. The cover is  in very good condition, with minor signs of wear at the edges and front flap. The binding and hinges are very good and secure. The text is in very good condition, with an ink inscription, ‘Secret', and an ink stamp of the 'Residency Library, No. V23', to the front endpapers.

Published: 1917
Blue boards with press stud flap, with gilt titling
Dimensions: 130mm x 185mm
Pages: 551