Stu Lloyd, known to hashers as "The Colonel," picks up where Tim "Magic" Hughes left off, unearthing the history of the Hash House Harriers from its Malaysian beginnings in 1938 right up to the present day. The Colonel's research is thorough: by the time you're a quarter of a way through HOTD, you'll come to believe he's interviewed nearly every hasher who ever lived. If, like me, you've pondered arcane points of hash history . . . for example, whether the original, pre-WWII Kuala Lumpur hashers had circles and down-downs, when hash names were first introduced to the hash, when hashers first started singing bawdy songs . . . you'll find definitive answers here.
Can you judge a book by its cover? Sure, and HOTD has a clever cover, but I think a quick glance at the table of contents reveals a fuller picture. Here are the main chapters of HOTD:
Someone, regrettably, told The Colonel that hashers never utter the word "run." Finding it impossible to write a book about hashing without using the word "run" at least 1,000 times (which should have told him it wasn't true), The Colonel adopts the irritating expedient of using "r*n," "r*ns," and "r*nning." I wonder how he imagines we pronounce the word?
But if that's my only objection (and it is), this has to be a great book, right? Right, it bloody well is, and read properly . . . episodically, in the bathroom . . . the best book on hashing written to date.
Why do I keep saying HOTD is a great bathroom book? Because you can't take it all in at once . . . it's best enjoyed in measured doses. I meant to read the book sequentially, chapter by chapter, but as an American hasher, I found myself bogging down partway through the chapter on hashing in Europe, terribly tempted to turn ahead to the pages on hashing in the USA. So I did. Now that I've satisfied my curiosity about how hashing took hold in the USA, I go back to HOTD whenever I'm on the throne, dipping into Europe one day, reading about interhashes the next, looking into hashing in Africa the day after. Hare of the Dog occupies a place of honor by the seat of ease, and I read a little more of it each and every day, flipping back and forth between items that catch my interest. By the time I graduate to adult incontinence undergarments and no longer need to visit the biffy, I'm going to know a hell of a lot about hashing!
Hare of the Dog is a 472-page paperback, available for AUS$18 a copy. The easiest way to order the book is on-line at www.hash-onon.com/order.html. A portion of writer's royalties from each copy sold goes to the Hash Heritage Foundation in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Buy it. Read it. Treasure it. And loan it out at your peril!
Flying Booger's Fearless Reviews ©2003 by Paul "Flying Booger" Woodford
January 12, 2003