NAVAL INTELLIGENCE DIVISION. Albania.

[Oxford, OUP for HMSO], August, 1945.

£498

8vo. Original maroon cloth; lettered in gilt; pp. xiii, 416, plates after photographs, maps (including large colour-printed folding map in rear pocket) and fold-out charts; apart from light fading to spine, near-fine.

'A series of intelligence handbooks produced during the First World War had proved valuable both during the conflict and as subsequent reference sources. Early in the Second World War the Director of Naval Intelligence ordered the preparation of a new and improved series to meet the requirements of the day. The Handbooks were designed to provide, in the words of the Preface, "for the use of Commanding Officers, information in a comprehensive and convenient form about countries which they may be called upon to visit, not only in war but in peace-time; secondly, to maintain the high standard of education in the Navy and, by supplying officers with material for lectures ... to ensure for all ranks that visits to a new country shall be both interesting and profitable"' (Cambridge Archive Editions, who reproduce a few titles of the series, online).

The series was edited by Kenneth Mason (1887-1976), a geographer-soldier, mountaineer and the first statutory professor of geography at Oxford University. Inspired by Younghusband's Heart of a Continent as a child, he conducted intense surveys of the Himalayas and was awarded an RGS medal in 1927 for his surveys of India and Russian Turkestan as well for his leadership of the Shakshagam Expedition. 'Mason also revitalized the links between geography at Oxford and practical service. These had begun with the RGS's involvement in the establishment of the discipline at Oxford and were fostered by Halford Mackinder and particularly his successor, A. J. Herbertson. Under Mason, with his extensive contacts in the military services, government, the city, and the RGS, the school consolidated its practical focus, linked to regional planning, surveying, exploration, teaching, and colonial service. A notable product was the Admiralty handbooks produced during the war when the school became an intelligence unit' (ODNB)

Rare first edition, published as the restricted volume B.R 542 in the Geographical Handbook Series. Probably the best mid-century English language book on the country and one of the rarer titles in the series.

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