Days of Fresh Air, by the Rt. Hon. L. S. Amery, M.P. 8 vo.;
320 pages, with 53 illustrations and index. London: Jarrolds, Ltd., 1939. Price 16s.
The coincidence of having gone to the Boer War and also to have climbed one or many high peaks connects a group of remarkable men. We include Winston Churchill because of his ascent of Monte Rosa, but more particularly members of the Alpine Club such as Percy Farrar, John Buchan and the writer of the present volume, Leopold Amery. This is Amery’s autobiography down to 1914, and, as he offers pictures of himself going strongly as recently as 1937, one can reasonably infer that, if conditions permit, we may hope for another volume.
The world at large thinks of Amery as a strenuous politician, former Minister to the Colonies, one of the initiators of the Singapore base, and now Secretary for India, but a more select circle knows him as a past Vice-President of the Alpine Club who has climbed and made friends in all parts of the world. He is unique in having eponymous peaks in two continents, of both of which he made the first ascents. The daring attempt on Mt. Robson in 1909 is one of the highlights in his book. There are chapters on mountaineering in the Alps, Rockies and the peaks of South Africa, and yet Amery’s book is more comprehensive than one dealing with climbing alone, for we have also his wanderings from Serbia, Macedonia and Asia Minor to Hudson Bay and the Fraser River. The South African chapters give a vivid picture of a war correspondent’s contacts with the important figures of the time, not the least interesting of which was his meeting with Cecil Rhodes, the whole constituting a joyous Odyssey to which one can confidently hope for a sequel.