Authors & Friends

On this page I listed people and authors to whom I have a relation. Either they were co-authors of one of the books presented on this side or we were in contact for other reasons, mainly about “desert related” subjects.

Please check out the books and publications of these authors and friends of mine.

McGuirk, Russel

Born in Boston, Massachusetts, Russell McGuirk was educated at Johns Hopkins and Harvard.
He has travelled widely in the Middle East and North Africa. He lived in Egypt as a student of Arabic and then as a journalist for The Egyptian Gazette. Living in Saudi Arabia for nine years, he was the head of translation at the US-Saudi Joint Economic Commission. He moved to London and continued to specialize in Arabic translation for many years. He is the author of The Sanusi's Little War: The Amazing Story of a Forgotten Conflictin the Western Desert, 1915-17

Sanusi's Little War

This is the exciting story of a forgotten war, fought out on the fringe of the great First World War campaigns. At its centre stands the tragic figure of Sayyid Ahmad al-Sharif, the Grand Sanusi, a charismatic Arab leader caught between the rival war aims of the Turco-German alliance and the British Empire. In November 1915 HMS Tara, a requisitioned ferryboat, is torpedoed by a German U-boat off Sollum on the north-west coast of Egypt. The ninety-two survivors, nearly all Welshmen from Holyhead, are handed over to Turkish and Sanusi soldiers across the border and sent as prisoners of war deep into the Libyan Desert. The Turco-Sanusi Army then overruns Sollum and pushes into Egypt. The British, who occupy that country, are caught off guard by the suddenness of these events and are forced to launch a military campaign to expel the invaders. Thousands of British and Colonial soldiers are rushed into the Western Desert, where, over the next few months, four battles are fought before Sollum is retaken and the threat is contained. Finally, the Duke of Westminster leads a large column of Rolls Royce armoured cars and Model T Fords into Libya and the Welshmen are rescued.

Based on original source material, “The Sanusi's Little War” tells for the first time the full story of the Turco-Sanusi invasion and the subsequent military campaign. The author describes in detail secret missions by the Germans and, separately, by the Turks to win the Grand Sanusi over to their cause and get him to launch an invasion of Egypt. He reveals the fascinating role played in the campaign by certain British officers, particularly Leo Royle, formerly of the Egyptian Coastguard, and links them to the Military Intelligence Office in Cairo. And, most unexpected of all, is his discovery that T E Lawrence played a role in these events and even went to Sollum just days before the invasion, to meet the Coastguard officers who are the story's principal characters.

Book order: Sanusi's Little War

Light Car Patrols 1916-19

This volume's centrepiece is the previously unpublished personal account by Captain Williams of his service with the Light Car Patrols in Egypt and Libya during the First World War, More than a war story, it is also an important chronicle of desert exploration carried out by a miniscule British force using Model T Fords.
In support of the Williams memoir is a wealth of original photographs and maps, and a substantial commentary by Russell McGuirk, who relates for the first time the history of the Light Car Patrols, stressing their role as the precursors of famous Libyan Desert explorers such as Prince Kemal el-Din, Count Laszlo Almasy and Ralph Bagnold.

Captain Claud Williams' memoir tells, first-hand, what it was like to be a Light Car Patrol commander during the First World War, while Russell McGuirk's commentary provides the historical background to the formation of the Patrols and follows their activities from the British raid on Siwa Oasis to desert exploration and survey work and the Kufra Reconnaissance Scheme. Lavishly illustrated with original photographs from Light Car officers, this combined memoir and history provides a fascinating and informative picture of an unsung hero of the desert – the Model T Ford.