Percy Sykes began his career with Army Intelligence in India. Their main concern was the threat to India of the Russian advances across Central Asia. In 1893 they sent Sykes into eastern Persia on the first of many expeditions. Always with his terrier and often with his sister or his wife, he rode over thousands of miles of unknown desert, marsh and mountain to map them and establish his network of informants, helped by a Persian prince whom he had met in the desert.
Later, as consul in Meshed, Sykes used his wits to foil Russian attempts to take over northern Persia, the key to India. But when the First World War broke out it was Wassmuss – 'the German Lawrence' – who proved the greatest threat to Britain, as Sykes was sent alone to raise an army to defeat him.
In the great Victorian tradition, the soldier-diplomat Sykes hunted gazelle with princes, studied Persian poetry, and sat at the feet of dervish masters. This study of Sykes’ secret despatches over twenty-five turbulent years gives an unusual insight into the inner workings of Persia, which are little changed in the Iran of today.
Antony Wynn read Persian and Turkish at Balliol, spending a year at Shiraz University as part of the course.1972-1976: Based at Hamadan in western Iran, working as a buyer of Persian carpets for the Oriental Carpet Manufacturing Company, travelling all over Iran.1976-1978: Moved to Gonbad-i Kavus, on the Turkoman border of Iran, to run a country racecourse and introduce the Jockey Club Rules of racing to the Turkoman, who were not used to any sort of rules.1979-1991: After training as a slaughterman and butcher in Australia and New Zealand, represented the Vestey company in the Middle East,...
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