London: Smith Elder and Co., 1903. [Espionage novel] LEATHER-BOUND FIRST EDITION, first impression. Octavo (20 x 14cm), pp. xii; 336 . Illustrated with maps and charts, including a folding frontispiece. Bound in black full morocco, with raised bands, gilt titles to spine, and gilt ruling to boards. Top edge gilt, and marbled endpapers. The the publisher's original cloth bound in at rear. Contents clean, but for some expected light age/reading marks. Edges with some toning, exterior as new. A very good copy in an attractive recent leather binding. A novel contentiously described as the first modern spy thriller, vying for the title with Kipling's 'Kim', published two years earlier. Originally written after Childers returned injured from action in South Africa and first published in 1903, the novel of encroaching conflict with Germany was highly influential and is actually credited with the founding of British naval bases at Invergordon and Scapa Flow; newly regarded as strategically important after examination of the scenarios in Childers' text. The author was of course a staunch advocate of Irish Home Rule and was found guilty of possessing a firearm in contravention of the Irish Emergency Powers Resolution and sentenced to death by firing squad in 1922. His characteristically humorous last words to the firing squad were 'Take a step or two closer lads, it'll be easier that way.' Author, soldier and intelligence officer:1, British Government: nil. Item #66009
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