The Alps, by R. L. G. Irving. 120 pages and 130 photographs. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons; London: B. T. Batsford, Ltd., 1940. Price $3.00.
In this small book, illustrated with numerous fine photographs of a loved and familiar region, Mr. Irving presents an enthusiastic and even ecstatic guide to the Alps. It includes a brief geological description for the layman and covers the Alps of Switzerland, France, Italy and Germany. Detailed descriptions of climbs and walking tours are interspersed with historical incidents and accounts of alpine flora and fauna, including incidentally the extinct genus draco.
The author portrays the Alps as a dispenser of solitude, peace, escape and beauty, a land ever to be rediscovered by the individual, where every ascent may be a first ascent “if only he (the individual) refrain from searching the records in which a claim of priority has been made. However, he deprecates the higher and less accessible mountains in central Asia and Alaska as draining the energies under perpetual discomforts. To one who is devoted to trailless country and untrodden mountain ranges this might not ring true. One will agree with him that “you cannot get the Alps at second hand,” that “the competitive element in modern life is one of the very things men go to the Alps to forget,” and that “the treasure of the Alps is inexhaustible,” but this is true of mountains everywhere.
Mr. Irving’s hope, expressed in his author’s note, that his book will help the average person to want to spend his holiday in the Alps ought to be fulfilled for, as he says, “The Alps can give to the young who climb them and the old who look at them the knowledge of the things which belong unto their peace.”
F. H. W.