20 DECEMBER 1963, Page 19

The Baedeker Beat

Cities. By James Morris. (Faber, 42s.)

The Splendour of Israel. By Robert Payne. (Hale, 21s.) Quest Under Capricorn. By David Attenborough. (Lutterworth, 21s.) JOURNALISI S and writers, like• dogs and wolves, are different members of a single' species. Mis- cegenation between them is possible but seldom successful—by and large, the truth is that a good journalist trains his eye and his prose rhythms in a quite different way to a good writer. The slumbers of good journalists, however, are often vexed by a desire to create literature, and they rise determined to raise their style from the terseness and flatness demanded by newspaper sub-editors. They• inflate their prose, they tint i' a. delicate, shade of purple, they elevate it —the result of which is a string of mauve balloons.

Mr. James Morris is an excellent journalist whose occasions have taken him over most of the world's cities. He is also a prolific pro- ducer .of books, and his latest is all, about these cities. Beirut, Jerusalem, New Delhi, Kyoto, New York—each of these places rises from his pages, encased in its mauve balloon. Often Mr. Morris writes very prettily, and sometimes, as when de- scribing Delhi, with a romantic kind of insight, but each paraded metropolis floats in a rather' lifeless ether—this is a very superior guided tour

for very superior people, or anyway people will- ing to pay for journeys by mauve balloon.

Mr. Fleming's book is more entertaining than Mr. Morris's—his cities are places where people live, rather than the queens of the night (or day) which Mr. Morris evokes. Some of the cities are the same ones, too, in the Far East, Japan and America. Mr. Fleming dashes from one to the other, like some hussar of the cock- tail belt; sometimes James Bond takes over in spirit, but since James Bond fascinates as well as repels me, I liked those bits too. There is a good deal of information about restaurants, hotels, airlines, etc., and io the end I found that I had enjoyed Mr. Fleming's book.

Mr. Toulmin writes well and informatively, Mr. Payne writes well and informatively, but it i; a good general rule that travel books whose titles include the name of the place they describe are fairly run-of-the-mill travel books, and these are. Also I thought Mr. Payne tended to senti- mentalise Israel a little, which is certainly a danger for any writer who goes there; the country takes your breath away suddenly, and to write a good book about it one ought probably to wait for one's second wind. Ben- Gurion, though, is rather well described, and so, sometimes, is the landscape of which he forms a feature. The soil of both Greece and Israel, however, has been trodden by too many literary feet before for either Mr. Toulmin or Mr. Payne to get very far off the beaten track. • If 'you are an addict of animals and the Anti- podean landscape, as I am, Mr. Attenborough's book, which is about looking for the one in the other, will delight you. Also, as a mode of trans- port, I prefer Land-Rovers to mauve balloons.