Fitzroy Maclean, one of those old school travelers for whom far away places are no more and no less than the stage for ""high romance,"" leaves the Central Asian Back of Beyond (1975) for the perennial frontier of the Caucasus. His history reduces Russia's centuries-long drive for domination to the essence of heroic confrontation between a dashing 19th-century brigand, the Imam Shamyl, and the anglophile Count Michael Vorontsov, a true Regency buck in the Tsar's service. Even the internecine raids between local tribesmen take on a whimsical gallantry: the pink pantaloons of a kidnapped chieftain's wife flying over her captor's fortress catch our narrator's attention while the lady's fate goes unrecorded. Similarly, Maclean's personal recollections center on his own near-arrest as a spy in Azerbaijan during the Thirties, the rescue of a Georgian damsel in distress from a lustful truck driver, and veritable rivers of liquid hospitality staunchly forded on the drive from Tbilisi to Ervian. Maclean is an unfailingly entertaining guide, and even those who find his consummate dilettantism limiting will appreciate his many rare photos of an area still remote enough to claim its ancient title as End of All the World.