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A Short Walk in the Hindu Kush by [Eric Newby]
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A Short Walk in the Hindu Kush Kindle Edition

4.5 out of 5 stars 243 ratings

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Length: 306 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

For more than a decade following the end of World War II, Eric Newby toiled away in the British fashion industry, peddling some of the ugliest clothes on the planet. (Regarding one wafer-thin model in her runway best, he was reminded of "those flagpoles they put up in the Mall when the Queen comes home.") Fortunately, Newby reached the end his haute-couture tether in 1956. At that point, with the sort of sublime impulsiveness that's forbidden to fictional characters but endemic to real ones, he decided to visit a remote corner of Afghanistan, where no Englishman had planted his brogans for at least 50 years. What's more, he recorded his adventure in a classic narrative, A Short Walk in the Hindu Kush. The title, of course, is a fine example of Newby's habitual self-effacement, since his journey--which included a near-ascent of the 19,800-foot Mir Samir--was anything but short. And his book seems to furnish a missing link between the great Britannic wanderers of the Victorian era and such contemporary jungle nuts as Redmond O'Hanlon.

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 the hardcover edition.

About the Author

Eric Newby was born in London in 1919. In 1938, he joined the four-masted Finnish barque Moshulu as an apprentice and sailed in the last Grain Race from Australia to Europe, by way of Cape Horn. During World War II, he served in the Black Watch and the Special Boat Section. In 1942, he was captured and remained a prisoner-of-war until 1945. He subsequently married the girl who helped him to escape, and for the next fifty years, his wife Wanda was at his side on many adventures. After the war, he worked in the fashion business and book publishing but always travelled on a grand scale, sometimes as the Travel Editor for the Observer. He was made CBE in 1994 and was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award of the British Guild of Travel Writers in 2001. Eric Newby died in 2006. --This text refers to the hardcover edition.

Product details

  • Publication Date : March 28, 2013
  • File Size : 1312 KB
  • Word Wise : Enabled
  • Print Length : 306 pages
  • Publisher : HarperPress; 50th UK ed. Edition (March 28, 2013)
  • Language: : English
  • ASIN : B00BKQ1FA2
  • Lending : Not Enabled
  • Text-to-Speech : Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting : Enabled
  • X-Ray : Enabled
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.5 out of 5 stars 243 ratings

Customer reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5
243 global ratings
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Reviewed in the United States on November 11, 2017
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Reviewed in the United States on April 27, 2015
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Reviewed in the United States on April 12, 2015
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Reviewed in the United States on October 2, 2016
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Top reviews from other countries

Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars A quintessentially English narrative about travel in a fascinating region
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on August 18, 2017
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Maggie Gemmill
5.0 out of 5 stars Great descriptions on the way
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on October 28, 2018
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david canford
4.0 out of 5 stars A unique insight into 1950s Afghanistan
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on February 28, 2018
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giki
5.0 out of 5 stars a real delight
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on April 20, 2016
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Mr. J. N. B. Breakwell
4.0 out of 5 stars A classic gem
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on August 12, 2013
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