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Man & Mystery in Asia – Ferdinand Ossendowski (1924) (1st ed)

S$72.00

Man & Mystery in Asia – Ferdinand Ossendowski (1924) (1st ed)

S$72.00

Title: Man and Mystery in Asia

Author: Ferdinand Ossendowski

Publisher: Edwin Arnold, 1924. First UK edition.

Condition: Hardcover, no dust jacket. Very good. Inscription to ffep, very slight foxing. 295pp., app 9″ by 6″.

1 in stock

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The adventures of a Polish scientist/political refugee in Siberia, Manchuria and China, with bits about Korea.

About the author (from Wikipedia):

After the outbreak of the Russo-Japanese War (1904–1905) Ossendowski moved to Harbin in Manchuria, where he founded a Central Technical Research Laboratory, a Russian-financed institution for development of the ore deposits in the area. At the same time, he headed the local branch of the Russian Geographic Society in Vladivostok. As such he made numerous trips to Korea, Sakhalin, Ussuri and the shores of the Bering Strait. In Manchuria, he also became one of the leaders of the considerable Polish diaspora and published his first novel in Polish, Noc (Night). He also got involved in the Main Revolutionary Committee, a leftist organisation that tried to take power in Manchuria during the Revolution of 1905. After the failure of the revolution, Ossendowski organised a strike against the brutal repressions in Congress Poland for which he was arrested. A military tribunal sentenced him to death for conspiracy against the tsar, but his sentence was later commuted to several years’ hard labour.

In 1920, Ossendowski joined a group of Poles and White Russians trying to escape from communist-controlled Siberia to India through Mongolia, China and Tibet. After a journey of several thousand miles, the group reached Chinese-controlled Mongolia, only to be stopped there by the takeover of the country led by mysterious Baron Roman Ungern von Sternberg. The Baron was a mystic who was fascinated by the beliefs and religions of the Far East such as Buddhism and Lamaism and “who believed himself to be a reincarnation of Kangchendzönga, the Mongolian god of war.” Ungern-Sternberg’s philosophy was an exceptionally muddled mixture of Russian nationalism with Chinese and Mongol beliefs. However, he also proved to be an exceptional military commander, and his forces grew rapidly.

Ossendowski joined the baron’s army as a commanding officer of one of the self-defense troops. He also briefly became Ungern’s political advisor and chief of intelligence. Little is known of his service at the latter post, which adds to Ossendowski’s legend as a mysterious person. In late 1920, he was sent with a diplomatic mission to Japan and then the US, never to return to Mongolia. Some writers believe that Ossendowski was one of the people who hid the semimythical treasures of the Bloody Baron.

After his arrival in New York City, Ossendowski started to work for the Polish diplomatic service and possibly as a spy. At the same time, in late 1921 he published his first book in English: Beasts, Men and Gods. The description of his travels during the Russian Civil War and the campaigns led by the Bloody Baron became a striking success and a bestseller. In 1923, it was translated into Polish and then into several other languages.