Must Have Old Books on Kuwait
I don’t tend to collect as many things as I used to, but recently I got obsessed with trying to obtain some very old and difficult to find English books on Kuwait. The three most recent books I managed to get have now become my most treasured ones, The Arab of the Desert (1949), Kuwait and Her Neighbours (1956), and The Wild Flowers of Kuwait and Bahrain (1955).
I had lusted after these books for some time now but because they were expensive, I never pulled the trigger on them. But, a few weeks back while at the home of the Australian ambassador, I spotted the books on his shelves. It was such an odd experience seeing them live, they were books I had obsessed about virtually but then seeing them in person felt so weird. I couldn’t believe he even had The Wild Flowers of Kuwait and Bahrain, a book written by Violet Dickson, the wife of H. R. P. Dicksonand published in 1955. Not only a very difficult book to get because of its scarcity, but also one that wasn’t that popular due to its subject matter.
I quickly flipped through the books and posted some pictures on my Instagram story. As I was flipping through the books and taking photos I quickly realized how badly I needed to have these books. All this time I had been reading on the books and looking at photos of their covers, but I had never seen the books from the inside. Both “The Arab of the Desert” and “Kuwait and Her Neighbours” are filled with illustrations, fold-out maps and family trees, loose documents, black and white photos and tons and tons of interesting information. They are very thick books filled with a lot of content and after spending just a few minutes with them, there was no way I wasn’t getting them.
The first thing I did was delete the photos of the books I had just posted on my Instagram story. I realized if I wanted to get my hands on these books then I should get them first, and then post about them. I then spent the next two weeks going through every website I could find looking for the right copies of these books. I wanted first editions, I wanted the books with their dust jackets, I wanted them in good condition and most importantly, I wanted to pay a reasonable price. After a few emails to various sellers asking for more photos of the books, and after a few more emails negotiating the prices, I managed to get my hands on all three books. I managed to get first editions of Kuwait and Her Neighbours and The Wild Flowers of Kuwait and Bahrain (I think there is only one edition of this anyway), but I ended up getting a second edition print of The Arab of the Desert. I settled for a second edition print because of the price and the fact the copy I got was signed by his wife Violet Dickson.
I’m now trying to figure out how I can share the books online, not fully, but just a way for people to get a feel of these books. The best idea I have so far is to mount a camera on a tripod and then flip through the books while I record a video. If anyone has a better idea let me know. For now, I’ve temporarily created a highlight on my instagram account with pictures of the books and some pages inside. You can check those out on my account @mark248am