Lonely Planet Short Walk in the Hindu Kush
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Lonely Planet Short Walk in the Hindu Kush

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3.98 of 5 stars 3.98  ·  rating details  ·  2,310 ratings  ·  142 reviews
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....more
Paperback, 255 pages
Published January 10th 2003 by Lonely Planet (first published 1957)
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Martine
Page 166 of the Picador edition of A Short Walk in the Hindu Kush ranks among the funniest things I've ever read. On it, Newby quotes from a phrasebook of the Afghan Bashgali language, which apparently contains opening gambits like 'How long have you had a goitre?', 'I have nine fingers; you have ten', 'A dwarf has come to ask for food' and 'I have an intention to kill you', which made me laugh so hard I actually dropped my copy of the book. One day I hope to lay my hands on the phrasebook from...more
Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
It seems like it took me an awfully long time to get through such a short book. I think it was just his writing style and the way he included detail about certain things I wasn't so interested in, such as mountain climbing technicalities.
However, I did enjoy the book and stuck with it because I wanted to know what it was like in this part of the world in the 1950s as compared to the present.

In 1956, the author quit his job in the haute couture industry and trekked with a friend through a region...more
Magdelanye
The title of this iconic book summerizes it well.
One does not just take a short walk in the Hindu Kush, take a look at any map.
As EN discovers early on, the beginning and the start are separate events, and the execution
something else entirely. What began as a lark takes on the nature of a grail quest, without the
religious overtones. Eric and his posh, poseur friend Hugh share more with bumbling Don Quixiote
than with the noble knights, and their destination might appear to be more tangible, but...more
Kay
Newby writes in a now-well-established genre of travel writing: the improbable, disastrous trip taken to an unlikely place by the totally unprepared. He wasn't the first to do this sort of thing -- among others, Peter Fleming's Brazilian Adventure stands out as an earlier blackly comic "bad trip," not to mention Evelyn Waugh and Graham Greene. Today, the torch of the comic "bad trip" is carried by writers such as Redmond O'Hanlon, Bill Bryson, and Eric Hansen.

Like several of the writers mention...more
Yarndog
I had searched the internet for the best travel books ever and this book showed up on almost every list. How good can a book about two guys
hiking up a mountain be? Well, I found out; fantastic, mind blowing great.

Newby writes in short straight clear prose with wry, witty self-depreciating humor delivered with impeccable timing. Time and time again he left me ROFL.

Hugh comes across as this mysterious, aloof, travel partner whom Newby is able to portray with gut wrenching humor. Part of the suc...more
Dinah Küng
This book made a delightful read for a week resting in the south of France; while Eric and Hugh labored senselessly up a mountain I'd never heard of and through villages full of unpredictable but ultimately missable minor tribes, I reclined on a chaise longue laughing my head off. I think the charm of this book, which is less than riveting in terms of travel discovery or anthropological profundity, is in the hapless and very English "Boys Own" confidence and optimism of the two trekkers. Hugh ha...more
Juha
Feb 08, 2009 Juha rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who like travel literature, are interested in exotic cultures and lands and history.
This classic account of the author's climbing expedition to Mir Samir in Afghanistan in the 1950s is both informative and entertaining. The tone of the volume shifts from light and hilarious to more exhausted as the authors moves from preparation of the trip in England and Wales to the actual hardships in the Hindu Kush. Yet Newby never loses his wry humor. The extensive and detailed nature descriptions are well-crafted but may become a bit tedious at times. But the descriptions of the culture a...more
^
I wish I’d waited until I’d found a better edition than this Picador, ppbk. The font size is unnecessarily small; especially and annoyingly so when compared to Newby’s “Something Wholesale” from the same publisher. That might not have been a problem except that the high absorbancy of the relatively coarse paper does absolutely nothing for the crispness of the text. Picador clearly worked to a tight budget in 1974 (oil crisis, monetary inflation) not to have reset the text with larger type (and t...more
Babak Fakhamzadeh
A fantastic travelogue. The book's difficult to obtain in 'the West', but thank god for the illegal presses in Afghanistan, Pakistan and India. Here, this book can obtained by the 100s.

Newby, mid-level management at some fashion firm, quit his job and convinces an old friend of his, Carless, working in the British foreign service, to visit Nuristan, even today a very undiscovered part of Afghanistan. Newby and his wife meet up with Carless in Istanbul, after driving from London to the Turkish c...more
Don
(FROM MY BLOG) By 1956, Eric Newby had devoted ten years of his life to working as a dress buyer for a London fashion house. Then one day, he received a telegram from Hugh Carless, a casual friend, asking "CAN YOU TRAVEL NURISTAN JUNE?"

Nuristan -- which until 1896, when its people were forcibly converted to Islam, had been called Kafiristan (land of the infidels) -- is one of the most remote and backward provinces in Afghanistan, nestled in the mountains of the Hindu Kush, northeast of Kabul. Af...more
Jim O'Donnell
Surprisingly, even though I am a lover of mountains and trekking and, to be quite honest, would go just about anywhere, the Hindu Kush hasn’t really topped my Bucket List. I’m glad it did for Eric Newby however.

A former SBS officer, Newby, middle-aged, well-off and sick to death of his job in the fashion industry leaves (companion in tow) to scale a never-conquered mountain (Mir Samir) in one of the most remote regions of the planet. And they know nothing of climbing.

In 1958 it had already bee...more
Matt
Mar 29, 2010 Matt rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Matt by: Outside Magazine
Book #2 in my 50 in 52 Weeks


Eric Newby's account of his failed ascent of Mir Samir in northeastern Afghanistan. The book painstakingly details his journey and interaction with the indigenous tribes.

Sadly, this novel could have been condensed into a 20 page retrospective in Outside Magazine. While the book begins with promise, the technical details of the actual climb often read like a textbook.

Newby spends a great deal of time providing a rich and often sleep inducing history of the region and...more
Greg
The first 'adventure travel' book I read about the Hindu Kush or Karakoram, and a good thing it was this book, which is a classic. PArt of the reason for this books' success which chronicle Newby Fraiser's travel in 1956 though the Hindu Kush, is he spends a lot of his writing not one himself, but on his travel companion Hugh Carless, and his wife, Wanda. who add a lot of humor and fun to his epic travels, that might otherwise have been deadly serious. A classic travel literature piece.
Eric Dean
It took me about 100 pages to get into this book--but then it hooked me. Exceedingly British in its humor and slightly condescending views of foreigners, this book made me laugh out loud. And want to climb a mountain. And the rather funny, ambiguous ending possibly undercuts England's own self-importance, maybe making the book a critique on British opulence and the trite "high-culture" scene. Great read.
Elizabeth
Rereading one of my favorite travel books, especially walking/hiking category. When I discovered it was missing from my bookshelves -horrors! who has it? - I bought a new one. This book is often hilarious considering Mr. Newby and his friend undertake this grueling journey with no experience on Newby's part thus casting doubt on the Brits as adventurers. Great read.
Bob Schmitz
I found this book abandoned in a tenants house. The author and a friend hiked for a month in the Hindu Kush (kill Hindus) mountains in the 1950's. The author prepared for this with a couple of days rock climbing in the UK. Then they went. They went with a group of Afghanis and horses and lots of supplies climbed an 18,000 foot mountain with ropes, pitons and ice axes really an unbelievable tale and then headed further into the mountains into Nuristan in NE Afghanistan a place rarely visited by o...more
Steven Hargrove
May 02, 2011 Steven Hargrove rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who likes self-deprecating humor
A short note to a friend in the Foreign Service inquiring about where to go for holiday led to a lifetime as a travel writer for Eric Newby. Although previously employed in advertising, on a sailing ship, and for many years in the wholesale fashion business, an expedition to Afghanistan (then Nuristan) in the mid-1950s with his friend Hugh Carliss led to Newby's classic travelogue. The foibles of these two plucky and utterly overmatched Englishmen make for a superbly fun read, filled with the tr...more
Marilyn
5 stars for the audacity of the journey, prompted by curiosity and not preparation, in that upperclass British explorer tradition. Imagine attempting a 19,000' peak few had even seen, let alone summitted, stopping along the way to consult a how-to climb pamphlet! Knock it down to 3.5 stars for the writing - funny and self-deprecating, (the forerunner of Bill Bryson style) but taken down only by the stuffing of endless detail on the region & people. Understandably so, given that few foreigner...more
Don
Just what the doctor ordered - a jaunty travel adventure as a pleasant respite from heavy lit. A book has to be a pretty good act to follow an introduction by Evelyn Waugh and I will admit that upon completing the intro I had to resist the temptation to set this book aside and reread Scoop or Vile Bodies, but a few paragraphs in and that was all behind me. Newby writes with good humor and engaging style in telling the story of a 1956 lark in which he and a friend go to Istanbul, drive across wes...more
Clive Walker
A delightfully understated and hilariously funny account of what must have been a very serious undertaking. Fraught with danger, the author, seems not to notice as he stays ahead of death by the narrowest of margins. Where the rest of us, mere mortals that we are, may feel compelled to describe the tortuous hunger or the withering cold, Newby is moved to remark on an attractive butterfly which catches his eye, or an amusing incident regarding his boot .

Similar in narrative style to Jerome K. Je...more
Rick Skwiot
An improbable—though hilarious—foray into Afghanistan by two Brits in 1956.

After a bad day at the office, the then 36-year-old London fashion salesman decides to quit his job, kiss goodbye his wife and children, and mount an ill-conceived exploration of mountainous Afghani hinterlands with an eccentric foreign service friend luxuriating in Rio.
After two days of mountain-climbing school in Wales, they drive off toward Kabul. Within weeks they find themselves scaling 19,000-foot mountains, inching...more
Jan-Maat
This is a good light read.

Working in the clothing industry in 1950s London the author and his friends hit on the idea of having a mountain climbing adventure in Afghanistan. Why not after all, its the 1950s, they'd never had it so good, and there were still years to go before the Profumo scandal.

Knowing nothing about mountain climbing and about as much about the Hindu Kush, they still think it's a good idea to attempt some peaks in Afghanistan but they do have a couple of days practise in the UK...more
Janet
The book was published in 1958, so for obvious reasons it feels somewhat dated in places, but this doesn’t detract from the book at all - or at least, not for me. :)

Eric Newby and Hugh Carless decide to climb a mountain which has yet to be scaled. However, they really don’t know much about mountain climbing, so spend a few days in Wales as practise! With their new-found ‘experience’, they head off to Afghanistan to climb “Mir Samir”.

Although the object of their expedition is the climb, the major...more
Jeruen
An edited version of this article was first published as Book Review: A Short Walk in the Hindu Kush by Eric Newby on Blogcritics.org.

So you don't like your current day job as a businessman in the fashion industry. What do you do? You call up a friend and ask him to join you on a mountain-climbing trip to Afghanistan! Does that sound crazy? For Eric Newby, not so much!

A Short Walk in the Hindu Kush is Eric Newby's wonderful tale of amateur mountaineering. Having had no mountain-climbing experien...more
Christopher
As per the other user reviews, this tells the story of a trip to the Hindu Kush taken in 1956 - apparently on no more than a whim.

Eric Newby was working in the fashion industry for some years before the journey and the opening chapter covers some of his time here.

As with other parts of the book, this can be a little confusing. Mr Newby also neglects to mention his time in the SBS and his earlier endeavours before and during the 2nd world war.

This book worked well on 2 levels for me -

Firstly, a c...more
Chuck
This book combines two of my favorite reading themes. The first is travel to desolate or exotic places and secondly, insight to the cultures and people of these places. If you want an unusual place to go the Hindu Kush would probably be in the top two or three remote destinations available. It encompasses the western Himalyas and presently includes those parts of Afganistan that has more drones flying over it than people. This is the area that Bin Laden was supposed to be drinking tea in some ca...more
Daniel Simmons
A charming and oft-hilarious 1950s travelogue about two friends who, sans any real mountain-climbing experience, attempt (ineptly, as you can imagine) to climb the peak of Mir Samir in remote northeastern Afghanistan. This made a fun counterpoint to another travelogue I read recently, "Arabian Sands" by the British explorer William Thesiger (who, by the way, shows up in the last scenes of this book to deliver a withering judgment of the author's portable air mattress).
Scott
In 1956 Eric Newby, a refugee from London haute couture, and Hugh Carless, a career diplomat, set out from Istanboul in a station wagon, intent on driving overland to Afghanistan, where they hoped to scale Mir Samir, a towering mountain in the Hindu Kush. Both Newby and Carless were complete amateurs, relying on decade-old army rations, donations from venerable geographic societies, and an endearing naïveté. Just about everything that could go wrong did -- breakdowns, accidents, imprisonment, mu...more
Don Heiman
I thought the best travel book ever written was volume 2 of the Lewis Clark exploration until I read Erick Newby's "Short Walk in the Hindu Kush." His trek in Afghanistan's mountain wilderness with Hugh Carless was full of adventure, humor, and unbelievable peril. It is a classic travel book and helped me better understand Afghanistan's forbidding terrain and tribal history.
Deb W
I don't feel like I was able to REALLY read this book because so much of the Afghan and Islamic cultures are so foreign to me. Also, at least in this publication, there was no glossary to all the foreign terms used (italicized but never defined) that often I had no understanding of what was being conveyed. It did include maps, but I didn't find all the different place names listed on the maps and wasn't so motivated to research as I read. I imagine if I had more familiarity with any of the above...more
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68509
George Eric Newby CBE MC (December 6, 1919 – October 20, 2006[1]) was an English author of travel literature.

Newby was born and grew up near Hammersmith Bridge, London, and was educated at St Paul's School. His father was a partner in a firm of wholesale dressmakers but he also harboured dreams of escape, running away to sea as a child before being captured at Millwall. Owing to his father's frequ...more
More about Eric Newby...
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“Mustering this sad, mutinous little force, I drove them before me up the Linar gorge, cursing the lot of them. It was not difficult for me to work up a rage at this moment. All of a sudden I felt that revulsion against an alien way of life that anyone who travels in remote places experiences from time to time. I longed for clean clothes; the company of people who meant what they said, and did it. I longed for a hot bath and a drink.” 1 likes
“I was heavily involved on all fronts: with mountaineering outfitters, who oddly enough never fathomed the depths of my ignorance; possibly because they couldn’t conceive of anyone acquiring such a collection of equipment without knowing how to use it…” 1 likes
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