THE GOLDEN CARPET by Somerset De Chair


Email this review


Captain De Chair was Intelligence Officer with the tiny British force -- ""Kingool"" under Brigadier Joe Kingstone --which, with Glubb Pasha's Bedouin Desert Patrol, accomplished the seemingly impossible feat of crossing a waterless desert and capturing and holding Baghdad. This is almost a mile by mile narrative of the expedition, told with that quiet restraint that makes the adventure almost subdued in drama, but with perceptive and descriptive details that make it a vivid recapturing of the mood, the tempo of personalities and background and life. There's an oddly personal approach, use of first names, almost an irreverence towards rank -- that will be somewhat confusing to American readers who try to disentangle the interlocking authorities of the various Joes, Peters, Ians, etc. The bits about Glubb Pasha, one of this war's most romantic figures, add to our knowledge of him as a personality rather than a strategist. The tricks by which the attack became a success with little actual fighting are revealed for -- to me at least -- the first time. The engineering feat by which the waters were bridged is recounted soberly, undramatically, but with heightened effect. Much of it is extraordinarily fascinating reading; but it differs so from the brilliant highlighting of American reportage that as one reads, it seems often to drag. The record ends with the narrator's own wounding at the unsuccessful onslaught on Palmyra. There's one section -- devoted to the ticklish period of skeleton occupation of Baghdad, that throws some needed light on the troubled areas of the Near East -- areas where civil strife is still close to the surface. But in the main, this is a record of an isolated campaign -- one that in the future may well be bracketed with Lawrence's Revolt in the Desert, to which sections of this book bear unmistakable resemblances.

Pub Date: Oct. 12th, 1945
Publisher: Harcourt, Brace