sciously rejected the thought of exilenfrom her native land, even though hernex-husband, another excellent poet, wasnexecuted as a counterrevolutionary inn1921, her son was arrested during thengreat purges of the 1930’s and she herselfnwas the target of an intense campaign ofnpolitical vilification—because of her religiousnand personal verse—at the end ofnWorld War II. But she published only anhandful of subservient poems, and thennonly at the height of postwar Stalinism.nOtherwise she maintained her poetic integrity.nIn 1965, just before her death,nshe was permitted to visit Oxford to receivenan honorary degree.nUespite a few lapses under intensenpressure—for which it is difficult for usnwho have never known such pressures toncondemn them—all four poets defendednthe primacy of the independentnpoetic spirit in the face of the demands ofnthe all-encompassing totalitarian state.nWe, the NativesnJoel Garreau: The Nine Nations ofnNorth America; Houghton Mifflin Co.;nBoston.nJonathan Raban: Old Glory: An AmericannVoyage; Simon & Schuster; NewnYork.nby John Shelton Reedn<<‘ Ihere is no frigate like a book”—nMiss Dickinson wrote, in lines that usednto send seventh-grade boys into paroxysmsnof suppressed giggles—“to take usnlands away.” When I confess that I’dnrather read even a bad travel book thannmost best-selling novels these days, Indon’t know whether that reflects poorlynon me or on the novels, but there’s nonquestion that with the price of travelnwhat it is, travel books are a comparativenDr. Reed is professor of sociology at thenUniversity of North Carolina.nThey would not assent to the imposed,nartificial harmony of totalitarianism,nboth out of a sense of personal integritynand out of a dedication to religious valuesn(except in Tsvetaeva’s case). Hingleyngives us a sympathetic account of all fournlives—arranged chronologically andnsometimes a little mechanically—withnsome emphasis on their personal interrelationships.nOne might cavil at certainndetails—Hingley skips very rapidly overnthe final decades of Pasternak’s andnAkhmatova’s careers after 1941, bynwhich time Mandelstam and Tsvetaevanhad passed from the scene, and he has annirritating way of translating poetry intonEnglish with the articles omitted (“In follow-upnto own words/He hewed ownnline, made jacket bulge “)—but the bookncommemorates not only four superbnpoets, but also four heroes of the humannspirit who will remain with us when theirntormentors have long been covered bynimpenetrable oblivion. •nbargain, even at fifteen dollars and up.nHere’s a test. Consider two books: (1)nan account of a small-boat trip down thenMississippi by an Englishman who hasnbeen a Mark Twain enthusiast sincenchildhood and recently wrote a finentravel book about the Middle East; (2) annop-ed piece from the Washington Postnon regional diversity in the U.S., expandednto 427 pages by its author, whonflew around the country for a year on annexpense account, popping in here andnthere to talk to folks. Which is the betternbook?nYou’re wrong (and I was, too). OldnGlory is a disappointing exercise in selfindulgence,nand The Nine Nations ofnNorth America is good, solid reporting,nwith a provocative thesis that’s wellnworth thinking about.nOne of the delights of travel booksncomes from revisiting exotic places wherenone has actually been before. Goodnbooks can evoke familiar smells andnnntastes as well as scenery; bad ones give thenreader the more subtle pleasure of oneuppingnthe author. Almost as satisfying,nto me at least, are books about places Inhaven’t been—perhaps especially whennthey persuade me that I’m not missingnanything. Paul Theroux’s OldPatagoniannExpress, for instance, has guaranteednthat I will never go out of my way to visitnLatin America, and Eric Newby seems tonspecialize in this genre: The Big RednTrain will convince any sensible readernthat Siberia is best left unvisited, andnSlowly Down the Ganges has to be thenmost excruciatingly tedious travel booknever written. Books like that—which notnonly make the reader feel he’s “beennthere,” but cure him of any desire to gonagain—are a blessing to those of us withnworld-class wanderlust and bush-leaguenbudgets.nMy fondness for travel books is inndirect proportion to the extent to which Incan identify with the author. When Incan’t put myself in his place (as I can’t,nfor instance—despite trying very hard—nwith T.E. Lawrence), I may read his booknwith pleasure, but I read it for information,nnot for vicarious experience. This isnalmost always the case with a book writtennby a native: I’ll give him a respectfulnhearing, figuring he knows more about itnthan I ever will (whether he chooses tontell me or not), but I don’t come awaynwith the feeling that I’ve visited thenplace. On the other hand, when Therouxntraverses the Orient in The Great RailwaynBazaar, when V.S.Naipaulgoesylzi^ow^nthe Believers of the non-Arab Islamicnworld or his brother Shiva does an EvelynnWaugh number on Guyana and Californianmjoumey to Nowhere, I can imaginenhaving the same experiences. The authornand I are amused, puzzled, irritated,npleased by the same things; we are bothnoutsiders, just passing through, andnnothing matters as much as it would to annative.nI liked Jonathan Raban’s Arabia verynmuch. It wasn’t the greatest travel booknsince the Odyssey, as some of the reviewsnimphed, but it was good journeymannwork: evocative description, amusingni ^ i ^ H ^ B ^ JnSeptember 198Sn