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You needn’t be a fan of early ski history to enjoy this book, but it helps. From the embossed cloth cover to its diagrams and photographs, the book profiles a sport prior to its emergence as a recreational industry—when it still represented a physical and psychological adventure that wasn’t for the faint of limb.

The opening chapter, “The Englishman as a Ski-runner,” explores both the benefits of skiing and the low opinion of British schussers held by the more able Swiss skiers, as they would lament ineptitude in their own ranks with “he skis like an Englishman.”

Vivian Caulfeild, Nisbet & Co., London, Revised Edition, 1913

Caulfeild attempts to correct this with ‘how to’ (and ‘how not to’) visual instruction—featuring ladies in long dresses and men in natty tweed suits smoking pipes while executing telemark turns—that seems plucked from a charming time capsule buried on some faraway peak. More presciently, the author anticipates skiing’s future diversity and appeal: “I need hardly say… that the opportunities afforded by the sport for the exercise not only of the runner’s nerve, but of his skill and judgment, are almost unlimited.”

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