Sunday, November 20, 2016

A Short Walk in the Hindu Kush by Eric Newby.

A Short Walk in the Hindu Kush by Eric Newby. Hardcover book (no dust jacket) published by Secker & Warburg 1958 (first edition), 247 pages with some black and white photographs and a few black and white maps including 2 fold out maps.

A Short Walk in the Hindu Kush is a 1958 book by the English travel writer Eric Newby. It is an autobiographical account of his adventures in the Hindu Kush, around the Nuristan mountains of Afghanistan, ostensibly to make the first mountaineering ascent of Mir Samir. It has been described as a comic masterpiece, intensely English, and understated. Publications including The Guardian and The Telegraph list it among the greatest travel books of all time.

I agree, it is “among the greatest travel books of all time”... 
and yes, I have read few other globe trotting wayfaring adventures in my time and it is genre that I still regularly dabble in... which doesn't mean i'm an expert in things travel book related, but rather a keen armchair dabbler.  Newby's book is a great example of British travel writing particularly from the second half of the 20th century in that it does incorporate those various aspects of Englishness including humour, that make British travel writers so unmistakably British. A Short Walk could never have been written by an American... or an Australian and it's not that the Yanks or we Aussies can't take or make a joke... or be toffy, it's just that there's something very British about Newby and this book, that really does shine.

When I found this copy I ummmed and ahhhed a bit before figuring that it was worth the punt. No dust jacket, a few marks to the cover was the reasoning behind the hesitation (...yep, i'm picky). The fact that it was a first edition swung it across the line as did my own appreciation of the book. As bizarre as this may sound, I asked myself whether I personally would want a first edition of this classic in my own personal collection and in the blink of an eye came up with the affirmative (it is that good) ...and now of course after deciding that I would want it, I'm selling it.  It's not worth the big $. If it was signed by Eric or had some of Wilfred Thesiger's DNA attached to it, it would be a different story... and if you don't get the connection between this book and Wilfred Thesiger, you really need to read it.

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