The Accursed Mountains - Journeys in Albania (hardcover)

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In the spring and summer of 1996, Robert Carver managed to make a series of remarkable journeys through remote and extraordinary Albania in the brief interregnum between Communism and anarchy.

He travelled by bus, on foot, by mule and horse, staying with Albanians in their houses and crumbling Stalinist tower blocks, sharing their often grindingly poor lives. He met Vlach shepherds and village intellectuals, ex-Communist Special Forces officers and juvenile heroin smugglers, missionaries with jeeps and light planes, and ex-prisoners of Enver Hoxha who had spent 45 years in the Albanian gulag.

In the remote villages of the Accursed Mountains of the far north, he was the first Briton seen since the Second World War, when Intelligence officers were parachuted in to help fight the German occupiers. Though several Westerners were held up, robbed and even murdered in the lawless Djakova region while he was there, he managed to mount an expedition by horse to Lake Gashit, high above the snowline on the Serb-Montenegrin border, last visited by outsiders in 1933.

In Tirana he found himself in the diplomatic set, inadvertently consorting with Balkan highlife and involved with eccentrics straight out of an Evelyn Waugh novel.

High adventure, danger and comedy alike are recounted in this sharp and spirited travel narrative, a highly original experience of a mysterious mountain land now once more closed to the Western traveller.


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