When Men and Mountains Meet, by H. W. Tilman, D.S.O., M.C. 226 pages, with six maps and 54 illustrations. Cambridge University Press; New York: The Macmillan Company, 1947. $3.50.
Mr. Tilman is one of the “irreconcilables” of mountaineering, apparently preferring to do everything the hard, or at least the unusual, way. Although he emphatically denies that the companion line to the title of his current book applies to any of his own adventures, the reader will be inclined to disagree with him, particularly with regard to the explorations in Assam (made before the War) which are described in the first section of the book. His accounts of partisan warfare in Italy and Albania, where he was dropped behind enemy lines on several occasions, are engrossing and entertaining, perhaps the more so because he does not pretend to be “global” or authoritative but describes his own adventures with a dry wit and objective humor which apparently never failed. Wherever he went, Mr. Tilman found peaks to climb and obstacles to surmount; some of his companions were odd, his adventures often comic and sometimes desperate; but his light touch is always there. The ten years which Mr. Tilman spent in Kenya, reputedly reading twice through the huge Everyman’s Library, have given him an inexhaustible supply of quotations, metaphors and parallels which brighten his writing like stars in the night sky. His understatement is sometimes so monstrous that the reader must look sharp to appreciate the magnitude of his exploits. This book is a welcome addition to a mountaineering library, though the reader may neither wish nor be able to repeat Mr. Tilman’s adventures.
C. S. Houston