[ Transjordan; Hussein of Jordan; Arab Legion; Manuscript ] Substantial Holograph Assessment (three autograph manuscripts) of King Husain [sic] in 1959

Glubb Pasha [John Bagot Glubb soldier, scholar and author, who led and trained Transjordan's Arab Legion between 1939 and 1956 as its commanding general.]
Publication details: 
[ 1959 ]
SKU: 21105

'If he survives he may well be a great man at 40':Glubb Pasha gives his assessment of King Hussein of Jordan in 1959Three autograph documents by 'Glubb Pasha', giving a detailed and perceptive assessment of the character and situation of his erstwhile master King Hussein of Jordan (1935-1999), written to assist John Freeman (1915-2014) in preparing the interview with King Hussein broadcast in the BBC series 'Face to Face' on 1 January 1960. From the papers of the programme's producer Hugh Burnett (1924-2011). The first item is a long letter from Glubb to Burnett, giving a thoughtful and perceptive assessment of Hussein's character and situation, including a discussion of relations between Jordan and Britain, and a comparison between Hussein and President Nasser of Egypt. The second item is a series of 34 potential questions which Glubb suggests be put to the king. The third item is the covering letter to the second, describing the questions in it as 'ideas which I hope may be useful', and offering to involve himself in the preparation for the interview ('we have lots of time'). The fourth item is the printer's copy of the transcript of the interview as published in Burnett's 1964 book of the series.Sir John Bagot Glubb (1897-1999) is described in his entry in the Oxford DNB as 'servant of both Britain and Jordan' and 'the last in the long line of powerful British proconsuls'. In 1939 Glubb took command of the Arab Legion (subsequently the Jordan Royal Army), transforming it into the best-trained and most effective military force in the Arab world, and himself leading it across the River Jordan to occupy the West Bank during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. According to the ODNB Glubb 'was greatly reliant on King Abdullah's support, which vanished when the king was assassinated on 20 July 1951. His son Talal reigned only a few months before abdicating, and was succeeded by his son, Hussein, still only sixteen and a schoolboy at Harrow. Although Hussein respected Glubb, the gap between their ages proved impossible to bridge and they soon fell out. Military and political developments were rapidly outgrowing Glubb, and the influential foreign adviser to an oriental monarch was becoming an anachronism.' In 1956 Glubb was dismissed from his command, and given 24 hours to leave the country. He returned to Britain with only £5, and did not receive a general's pension from either Britain or Jordan. Despite the manner of Glubb's dismissal, the two documents present here reflect the 'exemplary dignity' with which the ODNB notes he always acted thereafter.The four items are in fair condition, lightly aged and worn, all four with punch-holes for binding.ONE: Autograph Letter Signed (with Glubb's stylised curling signature). Mayfield (Sussex); 5 December 1959. 6pp., foolscap 8vo. With Televsion Registry date stamp.A thoughtful assessment of King Hussein's character, Addressed to 'Dear Burnett', and written 'In continuation of my previous notes on King Husain [sic].'The letter covers:Hussein's 'extremely democratic & informal' nature on first coming back from England to assume the Jordanian throne: 'He liked jumping alone into his car without a hat and driving into the Town - perhaps to go to the cinema. The police, the officials & the escort used to be in a frenzy looking for him. […] I don't think he can do that so much now, there seems to be too much risk of his being assassinated.'Hussein's 'attitude to everything', which is ('in schoolboy language') 'flat out': 'In 1953, 1954 & 1955, there were several ugly incidents on the Jordan Israeli frontier, villages being raided by the Israeli army & many people killed. In every case, the king's first instinct was to jump into a car and drive himself to the frontier, to see in person what was happening. […] He was most anxious to meet the people and would get out of his car in the villages to talk with villagers and get their first hand knowledge.'His love of risk: 'He delighted to drive his car at breakneck speed along the roads at imminent risk to himself & the public. I do not know if he still does that.'His headstrong nature: 'Although however he was then 18, 19 or 20 years old, all the cabinet ministers & officials were afraid of him & unable to control him. […] he always won. Thus although he did a great many foolish things from lack of experience, there was no doubt that he had a remarkably strong & independent personality, and was full of initiative.'How he was 'deceived by politicians into thinking that Britain was the enemy of his country', resulting in a breaking-off of relations between Jordan & Britain'. Of Hussein's dismissal of 'all the British officers', including Glubb himself, he writes: 'He did this entirely on his own initiative, using his own courage & will-power. The extremists merely gave him the ideas but he carried all the responsibility. Now he has discovered that he was deceived and is drawing near to Britain again - once more on his own responsibility.'His political position. Jordan has 'a parliament almost in theory like Britain', and 'The influence of his grandfather King Abdulla & his own power, are not due to an "Oriental despotic constitution but to the personalities of their two characters.' Although Hussein 'now thinks Britain can be his helper, he is an enthusiastic Arab nationalist.'The contrast between Hussein with President Nasser of Egypt. 'Nasser likes to brand everybody who does not bow to his personal leadership, as being a traitor, and a "colonialist tool" etc. This is a local political line. Hussein is as nationalist as Nasser, but his personality will not allow him to be a subordinate of Nasser. Nasser is inclined to want only subordinates. King Husain also feels strongly about Israel, and is of course bitterly opposed to the present Iraqi regime, which began by murdering all his family - King Feisal of Iraq was his cousin.'Glubb sums up his opinion of Hussein's character: 'In brief the picture is one of a young man of considerable character, still retaining a strong streak of teenage enthusiasm for jet aircraft and fast motor cars. He came to the throne at 17 and was swept off his feet by the usual anti-imperialist propaganda. Now, gaining first hand experience, he is becoming wiser.'Glubb concludes the letter: 'If he survives he may well be a great man at 40'.TWO: Autograph List by Glubb of thirty-three suggested questions for Freeman to pose to King Hussein. Without date, place or signature, but sent with Item Three below (dated 3 December 1959) as its covering letter, stating that Glubb is sending 'some ideas which I hope may be useful'. 13pp., foolscap 8vo. With slip carrying a further question, numbered 8A. With a few minor emendations. Topics include: Hussein's time at Sandhurst, his view on the British boarding school and military service; his activities as a pilot and 'driving in car races'; military affairs; ceremonial and recreation; King Abdulla. The first question indicates the respectful tone that Glubb considered the interviewer should adopt: '1. The people of Britain [emended from 'England'] admire the personal courage which Your Majesty has shown in facing your difficulties in Jordan. May I ask how you, sir, feel towards the British people?' A number of questions concern military matters, and the following reflects Glubb's personal knowledge: '12 Everybody expects Arabs to fight but many people are surprised that the Jordan Army is so completely mechanized and has its own workshops and technical services. In England such units are possible because the technicians exist in factories in civil life and the army can draw on them? Is not this difficult in a largely agricultural country like Jordan?' The conclusion of the document demonstrates Glubb's attempt to 'prime' the interviewer: "Thank you very much Sir and may I wish you every success to [BREAKS OFF HERE] | Insert further back somewhere. | 33. I am afraid that I am not very experienced in Arab affairs, but we have the idea in Britain that King's [sic] in "The East" live in great state but rather isolated from their subjects. I think that perhaps this does not apply to Arab countries. Does Your Majesty succeed in getting about and meeting the people of the country? | (Note. He is very keen on doing this.)' Question 30 reads: 'Is it true, sir, that you were actually standing beside King Abdulla when he was assassinated?'THREE: Typed Letter Signed from Glubb to Burnett. On letterhead of West Wood St. Dunstan, Mayfield, Sussex. 3 December 1959. 2pp., 12mo. With Television Registry date stamp. Covering letter to Item Two above. 'Here are some ideas which I hope may be useful. As it is not until 1st January, we have lots of time. Please ring up or write or send my draft back with marginal notes or anything else you like which will help you.' In a postscript he explains that he has not typed Item Two, 'to save time'.FOUR: Typed text, prepared for publication, of the section on 'KING HUSSEIN' in the book 'Face to Face | Edited and introduced by Hugh Burnett' (Jonathan Cape, 1964). 2pp., foolscap 8vo. With instructions to the typesetter in pencil and red ink. Corresponding to the text as published on p.30 of the book.