21 September, 2020

A Dry Course

Most of the people in this book speak as though at an English public school, and the author is as facetious.

A Dry Course
The 19th century was the golden age for travel books, many of them written in English. Back then large parts of the world map were coloured red, to mark them as British colonies. Substantial portions of these colonies had never been seen by anyone except the original inhabitants. English explorers went into them. They unearthed new species of orchids and spiders; found animals, and even people, whose existence had not previously been dreamt of. They wrote the first accurate accounts of gorillas, pygmies and cannibals.

By the middle of the 20th century few places remained that had not been visited by a foreigner with a typewriter. But travel books were still written about difficult destinations. Very soon hardly any such destination remained; so publishers nowadays demand a gimmick to make a travel book sell. Mark Shand has apparently made some successful expeditions into this territory in the past. Though I haven’t read any of his previous books, I gather his gimmick has been to travel on, or with, a female elephant called Tara.

Shand originally conceived this book as...



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