Sahara Unveiled: A Journey Across the Desert (Vintage Departures)

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9780679750062: Sahara Unveiled: A Journey Across the Desert (Vintage Departures)

It is as vast as the United States and so arid that most bacteria cannot survive there. Its loneliness is so extreme it is said that migratory birds will land beside travelers, just for the company. William Langewiesche came to the Sahara to see it as its inhabitants do, riding its public transport, braving its natural and human dangers, depending on its sparse sustenance and suspect hospitality. From his journey, which took him across the desert’s hyperarid core from Algiers to Dakar, he has crafted a contemporary classic of travel writing.
 
In a narrative studded with gemlike discourses on subjects that range from the physics of sand dunes to the history of the Tuareg nomads, Langewiesche introduces us to the Sahara’s merchants, smugglers, fixers, and expatriates. Eloquent and precise, Sahara Unveiled blends history and reportage, anthropology and anecdote, into an unforgettable portrait of the world’s most romanticized yet most forbidding desert.

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Review:

Encounters, observations and revelations from a 1,200-mile trans-Saharan trek are poetically reported by William Langewiesche in Sahara Unveiled: A Journey Across the Desert. A correspondent for The Atlantic Monthly, Langewiesche was undaunted by the physical hardships of the trip, instead focusing on the beleaguered towns and people that survive along the desert's fringes and in its oases. As he discusses subjects as various as adobe walls and the history of prehistoric Tassili cave painters, he introduces old friends and people met by chance. Despite poverty and changes brought on by bare-bones technology, he reveals why for more than 2,000 years the desert has been seen as a place of trial, cleansing and illumination.

About the Author:

William Langewiesche is the author of seven previous books: Cutting for SignSahara UnveiledInside the Sky, American GroundThe Outlaw Sea, The Atomic Bazaar, and, most recently, Fly By Wire. He is the international editor for Vanity Fair.

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