For all the desert's dreamlike beauty, to travel here was not just to pitch yourself into oblivion: it was to grind away at yourself until nothing was left. It was to aspire to the condition of sand. One third of the earth's land surface is desert, much of it desolate and inhospitable. What is it about this harsh environment that has captivated humankind throughout history? From the prophets of the Bible to Marco Polo, Lawrence of Arabia to Gertrude Bell, travellers have often seen deserts as cursed places to be avoided, or crossed as quickly as possible. But for those whose call deserts home, the 'hideous blanks' described by explorers are rich in resources and significance.Travelling to five continents over three years, visiting deserts both iconic and little-known, William Atkins discovers a realm that is as much internal as physical. His journey takes him to the Arabian Peninsula's Empty Quarter and Australia's nuclear-test grounds; the dry Aral Sea of Kazakhstan and 'sand seas' of China's volatile north-west; the contested borderlands of Arizona and the riotous Burning Man festival in Nevada's Black Rock Desert; and the ancient monasteries of Egypt's Eastern Desert. Along the way, Atkins illuminates the people, history, topography, and symbolism of these remarkable but often troubled places.Reviving the illustrious British tradition of travel writing, The Immeasurable World is destined to become a classic of desert literature....
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The Immeasurable World: Journeys in Desert Places Reviews
(Note: I received an advanced electronic copy of this book from NetGalley)
When reading the book's summary,oneI admittedly may be a bit off-put by the prospect of reading about a man's wanderings through some of the most barren places on the planet. However, following Atkins as he travels from the empty quarter to the American southwest to the Taklamakan in Central Asia is anything but a slog. Far from it, one will encounter lands that are all quite similar, yet also unmistakably distinct with t ...more