The Cruel Way
Switzerland to Afghanistan in a Ford, 1939
While the core of the book is the journey itself and their interactions with people oppressed by political conflict and poverty, towards the end of the trip the women’s increasingly troubled relationship takes center stage. By then the glamorous, androgynous Schwarzenbach, whose own account of the trip can be found in All the Roads Are Open, is fighting a losing battle with her own drug addiction, and Maillart’s frustrated attempts to cure her show the profound depth of their relationship.
Complete with thirteen of Maillart’s own photographs from the journey, The Cruel Way is a classic of travel writing, and its protagonists are as gripping and fearless as any in literature.
“Ella K. Maillart—it is she who matters, though her capital I’s are few. The picture of herself is better than many superb photographs: a woman of the twentieth century, with a nostalgia for the primitive; always hungry for new places and new people, but sufficient to herself."