Books of the week

Little-known Museums in and around London (Abrams, pounds 13.95) by Rachel Kaplan. No Londoners, or visitors to London, will have the excuse to waste their rainy Sunday afternoons again. This illustrated book is a detailed guide to 30 museums in and around London, few of which I had even heard of - from Dr Johnson's House to the Tea and Coffee Museum. The only surprise is that "around London" can extend as far as Cambridge.

Eastern Caribbean In Focus (Latin America Bureau, pounds 5.99) by James Ferguson. This slim volume, one of a series covering the Latin American world, is not exactly a guidebook though you'll find it in the travel sections of bookshops. The idea is to provide readers with nitty-gritty facts about the history, culture and economy of a country; the "What to See" section is then condensed into three pages. The assumption that there are already enough conventional guide-books on the market strikes me as a fair one.

Nansen: The Explorer as Hero (Duckworth, pounds 25 hardback, published 23 October) by Roland Huntford. Forget Scott: Norway had its own failed-to- reach-the-Pole hero in the 19th century, in the form of Fridtjof Nansen, who spent three years clambering about the Arctic before turning back, 230 miles short of his goal. The black and white photos of men in ice are superb, but the book is as interesting for its account of Nansen's post-polar depression as it is for its tales of frostbite and bears.

The Death Zone (Hutchinson, pounds 16.99 hardback, published 2 October) by Matt Dickenson. Another account of the disastrous Everest climbing season of May 1996, written by one who successfully returned from the summit having filmed his experience. Even to the extent of climbing over the frozen corpses of the week before's storm, Dickenson brings out splendidly the sheer terror at the heart of the whole mountain climbing project.

The Traveller's Handbook (Wexas, pounds 14.99 hardback) edited by Miranda Haines. A compilation for the serious travel enthusiast, comprising around 100 essays on every aspect of travel, from the specialist ("The Diabetic Traveller" by Robin Perlstein) to the dramatic ("Surviving a Hijack" by Mike Thexton) to the mundane ("Motor Concessionaires and Agents" by Colin McElduff). The 300-page directory at the end of solid travel listings is an invaluable asset.

Jeremy Atiyah

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