CARRUTHERS, Douglas. Beyond the Caspian; a Naturalist in Central Asia. Edinburgh and London, Oliver & Boyd, 1949.
8vo. Original red cloth with illustrated dust-wrappers (not price-clipped); pp. xx, 289, with 6 colour plates by Roy Beddington, 16 photographic plates, one double-page, and a colour-printed folding map of 'Central Asia and Adjacent Regions' (incorporating Iran, Afghanistan, Russian Turkestan, Chinese Turkestan, India, and Mongolia); light marginal crinkle to wrappers, a little offsetting from endpapers, otherwise a very good and clean copy
First edition, presentation copy inscribed by the author to Ivan Montagu, film producer and writer with pro-Soviet leanings, as well as traveller in Mongolia. Preface: 'One does not look for humour in a serious book of travel, but there are flashes hidden in these pages - for those with discerning eyes - which would make Noel Coward himself green with envy. Readers will be grateful to him for an opportunity to turn their thoughts for a while from this troubled world, and to travel in his company to Samarkand, to Bukhara, and to the distant lands which he loves so well. Whoever may peruse [the book] will realise with what authority Mr Carruthers writes of the countries, peoples, animals and birds, which he describes so vividly' (David A. Bannerman).
Alexander Douglas Mitchell Carruthers (1882–1962) was a prolific explorer and naturalist who had travelled as early as 1907 in Russian Turkestan near the Afghan border. The present book, scarce and beautifully produced despite the wartime paper restrictions, is the sum of his relentless travels in Central Asia. 'His work showed alertness to the impact of climatic and physical variations on all forms of life: a thought which ran through most of his lecturing and writing. He did some work on climatic conditions in central Asia, and continued some of the work started by Ellsworth Huntington and other geographers and explorers. He was interested in the idea that in the course of centuries a process of desiccation had been going on in the centre of the continent. This induced him to work in getting information about the old civilizations which had arisen and disappeared in central Asia, thereby adding to what had been done by Sven Hedin, Aurel Stein, and others' (ODNB).