This book, published some 10 years before the author became Viceroy of India, originated in a series of articles he had contributed to the Manchester Courier and other provincial newspapers, describing his recent travels along the newly-constructed Transcaspian Railway through some of the Central Asian dominions of the Tsar of Russia. The book expands and enlarges upon the articles and ranges over a wide variety of topics including 'Observations on Russian character', 'Attitude of England', 'Bokharan irrigation', 'The Anglo-Russian Question', and 'Merits and demerits of Russian rule'. The dedication, however, offers a good idea of the character of the author, reading as follows: "To the great army of Russophobes who mislead others, and Russophiles whom others mislead, I dedicate this book which will be found equally disrespectful to the ignoble terrors of the one and the perverse complacency of the other."
George Nathaniel Curzon, 1st Marquess Curzon of Kedleston, KG, GCSI, GCIE, PC, FBA (1859–1925), commonly known as Lord Curzon, was a British Conservative statesman. Viceroy of India from 1899 to 1905, he created the territory of Eastern Bengal and Assam. Returning to Britain, he was Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs from 1919 to 1924. In the negotiations after WWI, he proposed the Curzon Line, later the border between Poland and the Soviet Union. His character, probably as the result of his unhappy childhood and teenage spinal injury, which left him in permanent pain and wearing a metal corset, polarised opinion amongst his contemporaries. He quarrelled with many, which may have caused people to overlook his considerable talents. He did, however, have a very happy marriage and, after his wife's death, further emotional relationships which indicate a softer, but well hidden, side.
Our copy is in good condition for its age, bound in navy cloth with the Russian royal crest in gilt on the front, and title etc in gilt lettering on the spine (somewhat faded compared with the front). Both covers have a thick impressed single line border. The main defect is an almost-detached spine - hanging on by the bottom binding thread only. Otherwise there are only minor signs of wear externally - bumped corners, some fading along spine angles, creasing of the spine, shelf wear to top & bottom of spine - but surprisingly few for its age. Inside, the deep purple endpapers are slightly cracked but not broken; the binding is good with no loose pages, but some weakness between gatherings; pages are variably spotted with brown stains - some clean, some heavily marked - probably an effect of damp rather than foxing. An ex libris in the name of Sir W. G. Gordon Cumming Bart. adorns the inside of the front cover, and an ink-written gift inscription is on the half title page. The text is enlivened with 16 full-page illustrations, many smaller ones in the text, and 2 folding maps. This is a rare and collectable volume.