The Great War has made traveling adventurous again
Ross argues that, prior to World War I, the ease of travel had stripped it of adventurousness, but that the war’s destruction of infrastructure has now restored this quality.
Ross sells his 1923 travelogue as a “travel and adventure book that would have been impossible to write in the prewar period, with its smooth, safe streets”. Back in the days of his childhood, one could only dream of adventure in traveling to the north and south poles. Now, however, the war has led to the destruction of modes of transportation and to an increase of lawlessness, such that travel is more arduous and more dangerous.
“Where one used to travel comfortably in a sleeping wagon, one now adventurously makes one’s way by freight train, riding on top of naphtha or cattle cars. On once-safe caravan routes, one again rides with a rifle strapped on one’s hip”. Ross is attracted to this image of himself as a cowboy on the plains, and he enthusiastically enters dangerous situations.
In Persia, later in the book, Ross rides along a road where Schachsewennen (Shahsevans) attack travelers. In a scene reminiscent of Karl May’s Winnetou novels, Ross, like Old Shatterhand, is better able to navigate the danger than the region’s natives in his company. As they cower behind the cover offered by the landscape, Ross calmly assesses the situation and comes up with a plan (148-164).
Colin Ross. Vorwort. In: Der Weg nach Osten: Reise durch Rußland, Ukraine, Transkaukasien, Persien, Buchara und Turkestan. 1. Aufl. Leipzig: F. A. Brockhaus; 1923; 3-5.