Middle East Studies

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'A Small Room in Clarges Street'

War-Time Lectures at the Royal Central Asian Society, 1942–1944

Rosie Llewellyn-Jones is archivist at the Royal Society for Asian Affairs. She is an historian, who read languages and gained her PhD from the School of Oriental and African Studies, London. She has worked in Saudi Arabia and travelled extensively, including the overland route through Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan in the 1970s. She has published a number of books, mainly on colonial history in the Indian sub-continent. She is a tour leader for Martin Randall Travel in Bengal and Secretary of the British Association for Cemeteries in South Asia.

With a Foreword by Sir Harold Walker

During the darkest days of the Second World War a select group of people gathered together in Mayfair to listen to a series of secret lectures organised by the Royal Central Asian Society (now the Royal Society for Asian Affairs). Lecturers and their hand-picked audience examined fast-moving events in the Middle East, Persia and Russia with the intention to propose strategies for Britain's post-war international role. The lecturers were chosen for their inside knowledge of these countries: a British General who had visited Russia's front-line held against the German invasion; an RAF officer who was in Iraq during the pro-German coup by Rashid Ali, and the subsequent defence of the Habbaniya air base; a Persian-speaking British diplomat stationed in Teheran; a Mancunian of Lebanese descent who spoke frankly about Arab hopes and fears; a Home Officer advisor sent to Moscow to inspect its fire-watching arrangements; and a Polish countess forcibly transported to a collective farm in Siberia, among others.

Secrecy surrounded these lectures – many of the scripts were marked 'Secret' or 'Confidential'; they were not published in the Society's Journal, and the audience was warned not to reveal the topics discussed outside the Clarges Street premises. The discussions which followed the lectures were held in the knowledge that frank views could be freely expressed, and are included in this volume. Although so much has changed in the international arena, these seventy-year old lectures, only recently rediscovered in the Society's Archives, have a peculiar poignancy and relevance in understanding today's unquiet Middle East and how war-time events and strategies were to shape post-war policy with regard to Arab nationalism and Arab unity.

Hardback ISBN: 978-1-84519-633-2
Hardback Price: £50.00 / $69.95
Release Date: May 2014
Paperback ISBN: 978-1-84519-714-8
Paperback Price: £25.00 / $34.95
Release Date: March 2015
Page Extent / Format: 200 pp. / 229 x 152 mm
Illustrated: Yes



The Middle East

1. Iraq 1942
J.R.A. Embling

2. The Middle East: in American Opinion
H.A.R. Gibb

3. Post-war Britain and the Middle East
S.H. Slater

4. Persia
Christopher Sykes

5. Arab Nationalism Today
Albert Hourani

6. A Forecast of Arab Unity
S.F. Newcombe

7. The Assyrian Cause
Hugh Champion de Crespigny


8. Moscow – July and August 1941
Guy Symonds

9. Siberia
Sophie Czarkowska-Golejewska

10. German and Russian Armies
Giffard le Quesne Martel


Llewellyn-Jones presents a collection of essays based upon secret lectures held during World War II by the organization that would ultimately become the British Royal Society for Asian Affairs. These secret lectures where conducted by speakers selected for their in-depth contemporaneous knowledge of specific Asian affairs of interest to Britain’s position following the war. Llewelyn-Jones is archivist at the Royal Society for Asian Affairs. She has published widely on British colonial history.

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