3 volumes. [iii]-xxii, , 356; [iii]-xi, , 473, ; [iii]-xix, , 332 pp. With 8 steel-engraved plates, 1 of them folding. (8vo) 23x13 cm (8½x5¼"), period half calf & marbled boards, gilt tooling to spines, later morocco lettering pieces. First Edition.
Alexander Burnes important account of his travels to Kabul and Bokhara during the height of the diplomatic maneuverings and clandestine subterfuge between Great Britain and Russia known as the "Great Game."
The British government was becoming increasingly anxious to assess Russian encroachment in the area and thus in 1832 dispatched Burnes to Kabul, ruled by Dost Mohammed, and over the Hindu Kush to Balkh. By way of the Oxus, and the desert crossing he finally reached Bokhara where he received a welcome from the vizier Koosh Begee (though not the Emir). After one month there he returned by way of Merv, to the Persian Gulf and finally Bombay. Sent to London to report on his findings, he received a hero's welcome, an audience with the King and was awarded the gold medal of the Royal Geographical Society. ''John Murray... was quick to acquire Burnes's account of his journey... It was rushed through the press so as to steal a march on Arthur Conolly's book, which appeared a few months later, and Moorcroft's longdelayed posthumous work... [It] brought to the reader for the first time the romance, mystery and excitement of Central Asia. It was to prove an immediate bestseller, 900 copies being sold on the first day'' (Peter Hopkirk, The Great Game, p.151). This first edition was not isued with a map, it still being prepared by Arrowsmith, and not to appear until the second edition.;