Benedict Allen follows the travels of quintessential British amateur traveller Eric Newby, author of A Short Walk in the Hindu Kush.
Benedict Allen follows the travels of quintessential British amateur traveller Eric Newby. Born in suburban Hammersmith between the wars, Newby was dismissed by his public school as 'not clever', and his life became a catalogue of challenges. As a teenager, he went to sea to serve as a deck hand, sailing around Cape Horn. During the WW2 he joined the Special Boat Squadron, and was captured by the enemy. After escaping from an Italian POW camp, he met his future wife Wanda.
Newby itched to discover the world and, in the mid-1950s, abandoned an unhappy career in the rag trade to head off with diplomat Hugh Carless into remotest Afghanistan and climb Mir Samir. The journey was immortalised in A Short Walk in the Hindu Kush.
Fifty years on, Benedict Allen finds this lost corner of Afghanistan little changed - and comes away full of admiration for the author. Newby failed to reach the summit, but for all his sardonic understatement and self-deprecation, he was just a hair's breadth away. And all with the aid of a map drawn on the back of an envelope.
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