Pearls, Arms and Hashish: Pages from the Life of a Red Sea Navigator, Henri de Monfreid
Collected and written down with a foreword and conclusion by Ida Treat
Victor Gollancz Ltd, London, 1930.
Hardback; 160 x 240 mm; black boards with gold titles on spine; 349 pages. No dust jacket. Sixteen monochrome photographs, and a map showing the travels of Abd el Hai (Manfreid) on the endpapers.
The book is in good condition. The binding is sound although there is cracking along the gutter between the back free and paste-down endpapers. The book is slightly cocked. There is some wear along the joints with bumping to both ends of the spine. The edges of the leaves are tanned, visible when the book is closed, and there is some tanning and foxing internally. There are small closed tears at pages 169/170, 175/176, and 183/184, and some small dog ears here and there.
Henri de Monfreid (1879–1974) was a French adventurer and author. Born in Leucate, Aude, France, he was the son of artist painter Georges-Daniel de Monfreid and knew Paul Gauguin as a child. Monfreid was famous for his travels in the Red Sea and the Horn of Africa coast from Tanzania to Aden, Yemen, the Arabian Peninsula and Suez, that he sailed in his various expeditions as adventurer, smuggler and gunrunner (during which he said he more than once escaped the Royal Navy coastguard cutters). Between 1912 and 1940 he ran guns through the area, dived for pearls and sea cucumbers, and smuggled hashish and morphine, which he bought from a famous German laboratory, into Egypt, earning several stays in prison. Monfreid always denied having taken part in the slave trade from Africa to Arabia. He converted to Islam during this period, taking a Muslim name: Abd-el-Haï.
This book will also be of interest because of the picture it presents of the area nearly 100 years ago.