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Two Mountains and a River

Two Mountains and a River, by H. W. Tilman. xii + 232 pages, with plates and maps. Cambridge University Press, 1949. Price, $3.75.

It is probable that if Tilman were landed on the moon he would succeed in penetrating its least accessible places, living on the country, and suffering a variety of accidents, illnesses and indignities. On his return—for return he surely would—a pithy book of understatements and shrewd observations would appear, full of appropriate quotations from the lunar classics.

Not so distant, but nearly as difficult, is the region from Gilgit to Kashgar and west along the Oxus River, the area travelled by Tilman in 1947. True to past performance, he attempted to climb two extremely difficult peaks (Rakaposhi and Mustagh Ata); he penetrated rugged and little known valleys, crossed illegally a troubled frontier, was arrested, insulted and freed. Almost it seems that Tilman makes a fetish of trouble: a trip without many disasters might be dull to him. His durability makes him a close rival of Spencer Chapman.

This book is fully up to Tilman’s other tales. His humor is just as dry, his understatement every bit as outrageous, his adventures as extreme. The increasing shadow of the Russian bear is now falling on this remote area of Asia and adds emphasis and interest to Tilman’s travels.

C. S. Houston