The military administration which controlled what was known formerly as Tripolitania and Cyrenaica showed considerable initiative in preparing publications which still have great value in presenting statistical and other background data of a precision comparable with and sometimes better than more recent work.
Duncan Cumming (now Sir Duncan Cumming and the President of the Society for Libyan Studies) came from the Sudan administration with considerable Middle Eastern experience, a knowledge of Arabic and a sensitivity for the Islamic way of life, to run the military administration in Cyrenaica. He had the good fortune to find amongst his staff a number of technical specialists and scholars whom he stimulated to write and publish an excellent introductory account of the eastern part of Libya. This Handbook of Cyrenaica (1944–47) includes sections on the physical character of the area with a summary of geological knowledge based mainly on Italian sources, by O. H. Little, as well as sections outlining the history of Cyrenaica by the editor, and a sociological contribution by E. E. Evans-Pritchard (now Professor Evans-Pritchard) in Habitat and Way of Life—Tribes and Their Divisions. The work carried out in preparing the latter was to prove the basis of much more important and comprehensive studies by Evans-Pritchard. The Sanusiya Order was treated by C. C. Adams in the handbook, which also contained probably the only published account in English of the period of Italian colonization in eastern Libya, compiled by D. H. Weir, as well as a description of the famous southern oasis and shrine of Kufra by K. D. Bell.