Top positive review
A quintessentially English narrative about travel in a fascinating region
on 18 August 2017
A travel classic recommended by a friend, most of this travelogue takes place in the valleys of Aghanistan's most remote and under-explored region, Nuristan ('land of the enlightened'). The region had formerly been known as Kafiristan ('land of the unbelievers') until it's forced conversion to Islam in the late nineteenth century. Despite having travelled in Afghanistan myself I knew nothing about this region, and learned a great deal from the book. Did you know that 'Hindu Kush' translates as 'Killer of Indians'? Apparently the mountain range acquired this name because so many Indian Indian captives perished there on their way to the slave markets of Central Asia.
Two amateur mountaineers - having received just one weekend of instruction in Snowdonia - Carless and Newby attempted to summit summit Mir Samir (18,000 foot) on their way to Nuristan. They failed, but there's no doubting their achievement in even having come close. If the book has a weakness it is the bewildering array of valleys, villages and pass names that Newby refers to. Newby often left me feeling lost. The strength of the book is the author's quintessentially English self-effacing humour which I particularly enjoyed - also the tremendous phlegmatism that he and Hugh Carless display in the face of adversity. This is a travel book from a different age by a writer from an England that no longer exists - that is what I personally enjoyed most about A short walk in the Hindu Kush.
William Irvine, author The Polygamist