29 JANUARY 1927, Page 21

A Spanking Travel-Team

THE professional travel-book is engendered of the fact that its author, as a rule wholly unequipped as an observer, having visited a certain spot or region however well known, conceives that his impressions of it must be worth listening to, and (alas !) he writes. But there are other people who have been trained to observe, and such will produce an interesting book on Tooting, Seven Dials, or Bootle, and as they go further afield their interest proportionably increases, a real travel-book being the result.

There follow brief notices of five of the real right kind--all in their way good, but pride of place goes " beyond a peradventure " to the first two, starting with Major R. E. Cheesman's In Unknown Arabia (Macmillan. 25s.). This is a notable contribution to the geography of Arabia, but also (and mainly) a very valuable bit of ornithological research in an untouched field, the worth of which is vouched for by no less eminent a naturalist than Lord Rothschild. The region covered by Major Cheesman's expedition lies in the south-east of Arabia from the little port of Oquair where there are " singing " sands, south-westerly to the Hasa Oasis and the town of Hufuf, and thence southerly along the desert-border to the goal at Jabrin oasis. This is a journey never before made by a European ; the story is vividly and simply told.

The present is no place to attempt to discuss the faunal results of the expedition, but special attention may be called to the chapter on desert and protective colour, in which the author propounds the striking theory " that change of colour has been produced by the animals themselves owing to a conscious or semi-conscious power that they possess of developing colour-tones by very gradual process over a long period of time, this power being exerted in the direction of harmony with environment." -

Mr. C. P. Skrine's Chinese Central Asia (Methuen, 21s.) is the work of a man who, knowing that the broad outlines of the picture have already been competently filled In, knows, too, that there are plenty of blind alleys yet to be looked into and dark corners to be illuminated. A real piece of faithful geography is the result, of the kind that Mr. Skrine's forerunners in the same field, Sir Percy Sykes and his sister, have already produced. Those who are not geographical purists will turn with reward to the art and folklore chapters, and all will note the excellence of the photographs. That " all the world is closely sib " is evidenced by the Turki proverb on 9101WCUUX riches : " those who never even drank barley-gruel now drink tea."

Japan, like London, is provocative of many books, and as long as it provokes the right kind, all is well. One of such is Mr. Walter Weston's, whose walking tours and observations in Japan have long been known. These he puts to good advantage in Japan (Black, 7s. 6d.), a book which contains a general sketch of the country and is most daintily illustrated in colour. The thoughtful student of Japanese cultural development will appreciate, though not all of him will wholly accept either the statements or the inferences in the two chapters entitled " Some Movements in Modern Japan " and " The Japanese Girl of To-day." If the late Heer Louis ('ouperus' Nippon (Hurst and Blacken, 18s.) does not add much to the world's sum of knowledge about Japan, it is at all events interesting as revealing that land's reactions on the soul of the great Dutch artist in letters.

Much of Mr. Cecil Gosling's active life has been spent in occupying consular and diplomatic positions in Latin America, and the experience has brought him a profound knowledge of the Spanish-American people, both town and country. " Eke Vd. en sac casa—you are in your house "—says your host as you dismount in his patio, and he means it. It is this gracia which makes the Spanish character so lovable,

and if you would learn of this and a hundred other Spanish- Indian amiabilities and romanticisms described by a man who can sanely appraise the Spanish-American and who can

at the same time give you many good tales of sport and way- faring. read Mr. .Gosling's Travel and Adventure in Many (.marls (Methuen. 10s. 6d.).