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At times it also brings to mind Evelyn Waugh, who contributed the preface. Newby is a less acidulous writer, to be sure, and he has little interest in launching the sort of heat-seeking satiric missiles that were Waugh's specialty. Still, A Short Walk in the Hindu Kush is a hilarious read. The author excels at the dispiriting snapshot, capturing, say, the Afghan backwater of Fariman in two crisp sentences: "A whole gale of wind was blowing, tearing up the surface of the main street. Except for two policemen holding hands and a dog whose hind legs were paralysed it was deserted." His capsule history of Nuristan also gets in some sly digs at Britain's special relationship with the violence-prone Abdur Rahman:
Officially his subsidy had just been increased from 12,000 to 16,000 lakhs of rupees. To the British he had fully justified their selection of him as Amir of Afghanistan and, apart from the few foibles remarked by Lord Curzon, like flaying people alive who displeased him, blowing them from the mouths of cannon, or standing them up to the neck in pools of water on the summits of high mountains and letting them freeze solid, he had done nothing to which exception could be taken.Newby also surpasses Waugh--and indeed, most other travel writers--in another important respect: he's miraculously free of solipsism. Even the keenest literary voyagers tend to be, in the purest sense of the term, self-centered. But A Short Walk in the Hindu Kush includes wonderfully oblique portraits of the author's travel companion, Hugh Carless, and his wife, Wanda (who plays a starring role in such subsequent chronicles as Slowly down the Ganges). There are also dozens of brilliant cameo parts, and an indelible record of a stunning landscape. The roof of the world is, in Newby's rendering, both an absolute heaven and a low-oxygen hell. Yet the author never pretends to pit himself against a malicious Nature--his mountains are, in Frost's memorable phrase, too lofty and original to rage. Which is yet another reason to call this little masterpiece a peak performance. --James Marcus --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
Approaching mid life and feeling restless in the world of London's fashion industry in the 1950s, Eric Newby asked a friend to go mountain climbing in the Hindu Kish. Read morePublished on April 1 2002 by "bcj222"
I'm sure that this book had a different impact upon me than on readers who picked it up before the attacks of September 11 and the ensuing war in Afghanistan. Read morePublished on Jan. 2 2002
Eric Newby's account of his trip to the Hindu Kush is a book both daunting and delightful. He makes light of the incompetence and ignorance of both himself and his companion in the... Read morePublished on Sept. 25 2001 by W. Weinstein
This book was really hard to keep my attention. I did not find it exciting at all and did not get emotionally attached. Read morePublished on April 21 2000 by alison gray
Eric Newby is really one of the greatest and wittiest of travel writers and this book beautifully demonstrates his cunning charm and humor. One of the travel classics!Published on Aug. 30 1999
In A Short Walk, Eric Newby and companions manage to do everything wrong in order to climb a remote mountain in the Hindu Kush, which happens to be located in Afghanistan. Read morePublished on Jan. 3 1999