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A Short Walk in the Hindu Kush by Eric Newby

A Short Walk in the Hindu Kush (original 1958; edition 2010)

by Eric Newby

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997218,585 (3.85)59
Title:A Short Walk in the Hindu Kush
Authors:Eric Newby
Info:HarperPress (2010), Paperback, 256 pages
Collections:Standard Paperback
Tags:Non Fiction, Autobiography, Travel Writing, British, Book Club, Britain, London, Afghanistan, Nuristan, Hindu Kush, 1950s, Adventure, Mountaineering, Walking

Work details

A Short Walk in the Hindu Kush by Eric Newby (1958)

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English (19)  German (1)  Dutch (1)  All (21)
Showing 1-5 of 19 (next | show all)
Classic travel/adventure literature. Newby captures the whole ethos of the British amateur traveller of previous generations, the casual can-do determination alongside the equally casual planning and preparation. His wry, self-deprecating humour is the perfect vehicle to capture the curious mixture of naivety, modesty and self-assurance bordering on arrogance of the travellers, but also gives an insight into the places and people of the Hindu Kush. 9 September 2016 ( )
  alanca | Sep 28, 2016 |
A surprisingly hilarious tale of two spectacularly unprepared Englishmen hiking into the Hindu Kush region. All sorts of hijinks ensue, of course. ( )
  JBD1 | Feb 23, 2014 |
An entertaining description of two amateur climber's attempts to climb Mir Samir in modern-day Afghanistan. Newby downplays any prior climbing experience of himself and his friend, Hugh Carless, and the book depicts them very much as a pair of hapless Brits with the mad idea of climbing a mountain.

Mostly, I found this book very enjoyable, but it did peter out and lose focus after the summit attempt. ( )
  cazfrancis | Aug 17, 2013 |
They just don't make 'em like Eric Newby any more. Possibly the funniest travel book ever. ( )
  AnnB2013 | Mar 14, 2013 |
Thoroughly enjoyable book about a poorly prepared amateur mission to do some climbing in Afghanistan. The author and a friend set off with only a couple of days climbing practice in Wales, a can-do attitude and a sense of humour. You can't help but think they are a bit mad. ( )
  AlisonSakai | Jan 22, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 19 (next | show all)
This classic trek from 1958 sees him blunder through the Near East and into Afghanisatn, through a rugged land of dangers and marvels where "we shoot people without permission" (plus ça change). In a gloriously improbable finale, he runs into Wilfred Thesiger himself. The epic voyager meets his lighter-hearted heir – but Newby, for all comic gift, never loses for one dusty mountain mile his own"capacity for wonderment"

» Add other authors (6 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Newby, Ericprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Waugh, EvelynPrefacesecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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'Il faudrait une expedition bien organisee et pourvue de moyens materiels puissants pour tenter l'etude de cette region de haute montagne dont les rares cols sont a plus de 5000 metres d'altitude.'
L'Hindou Kouch et le Kaboulistan.

Raymond Furon
This book is dedicated to Hugh Carless of Her Majesty's Foreign Service, without whose determination, it must be obvious to anyone who reads it, this journey could never have been made.
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With all the lights on and the door shut to protect us from the hellish draught that blew up the backstairs, the fitting-room was like an oven with mirrors.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0864426046, Paperback)

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

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:09:07 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

A humorous overview of Eric Newby's travels from Mayfair to the mountains of the Hindu Kush, north-east of Kabul, offering insight into the numerous eccentric characters and adventures he met along the way, and descriptions of the spectacular wilderness of Afghanistan. Last published in 1981.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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