10 MAY 1935, Page 38

Travellers' Tales

(Hopkinson. 15s.)

Round Mystery Mountain. By Sir Norman Watson and E. j.

BROADLY speaking, travel books are of three main kinds.

There is the book written by someone of literary inclinations, who makes a journey or visits a country and relies largely on his own ability as a writer to make the narrative exciting or amusing. There is the book (which is not strictly a travel book at all) describing a certain part of the world by someone who knows it well. Thirdly, there is the explorer's or moun- taineer's record of his expeditions. There are also, of course, all manner of blends, hybrids and intermediate types.

The five books here reviewed fall, however, fairly neatly into • the three categories. Greek Salad is an amusing -and

very sophisticated account of a visit to Greece. The first half of it at least will appeal chiefly to the reader who knows the Greece of which Mr. Matthews writes and the slightly

eccentric Athenian society in which he moved. The second half of the book consists of a most entertaining account of Mr. Matthews' experiences as a housemaster at Spetsai, the Greek "public school" run on English lines. The two Most

delightful characters among his boys are the captain of football who was deposed for selling places in the team for an " away " match in Athens for as much as 400 drachmai apiece, and a youth who analysed the reasons for his unpopularity in an essay as follows :

_ "By how much the mountains rise above the sea, by so much my mind surpasses the minds of the other boys. My intellect presses on them, they are silent under my jeers. For that, they hate me and answer my teasings with silence and with blows."

. One cannot be too grateful to Mr. Matthews for this first- hand account of an authentic Llanabba Castle by the Aegean. The shade of Mr. Evelyn Waugh is perpetually present also

in the background of Afghan Journey. When Black Mischief appeared nearly three years ago, it struck me that, while the

setting might be -Abyssinian, the plot was equally obviously taken from the recent history of Afghanistan. This conviction is . confirmed by Mr. James' description of the extraordinary reigns of King Amanullah and his bandit successor. Amanullah is the perfect prototype of Seth, enamoured of Progress, blind to realities, bombarding his savage subjects with crazy edicts commanding them to shave off their beards and wear bowler hats. Scarcely less comic opera is Mr. James' journey to

Kabul over precipitous roads in ancient cars driven by Chauffeurs who were neatly always doped to the eyes with

hashish. (In the Prohibitionist Kabul of Nadir Khan it was a capital offence to drink a whisky and soda.) Some of the more unpleasant characteristics of the Afghans

seem to be duplicated among the Bedouin of the No' th Arabian Desert, though for them Mr. Raswan has the affeetion that travellers nearly always appear to feel for the people theY know best. Mr. Raswan is a German who was originally drawn to Arabia by his interest in Arab horses, and became blood brother to the young chief of the Ettiala. - He has lived among the Bedouin, and shared their life, raiding and riding, hunting and starving with them. The Black Tents of Arabia is there- fore an account as authoritative as it is absorbing of the great camel-breeding tribei-Of the Desert, who are scarcely known at all to outsiders, save as the troublesome raiders who live beyond Trans-Jordania. This description of the Children of Ishmael is really written from the inside, and those who visited Mr. Raswan's exhibition of photographs in London last autumn will be glad to hearlhat the book has nearly a

hundred excellent illustrations. •

The land Between the Oxus and the Indus is the Gilgit Agency in the far north-west corner of Kashmir, where India; Russia, China and Afghanistan meet. It is a miniature Caucasus, where in- the remote valleys of the -Karakorum and the Hindu Kush live tribes who still cherish legends of Alexander the Great and differ completely in race and language from the people of the next valley. IIunza and Nagir are mentioned by most travellers who pass through to the Pamirs this way, but the other little states are hardly known at-all, and Colonel Schomberg has written a most valuable account of them.

The first account of the crossing on skis of the part of the British Columbian Coast Range, Round Mystery Mountain, alias Mount Waddington, alias Mount George Dawson, last year was published in The Times by Mr. E. J. King, who now collaborates with Sir Norman Watson, the leader of the expedition, in a fuller narrative. It is -indeed astonishing to think that within two hundred-miles of Vancouver- stands the highest peak in Canada, that it was not so much as glimpsed or guessed at until 1922, and that its existence was not con- firmed until 1926. Here is an almost virgin field for the mountaineer seeking for new peaks to conquer.