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Deserts: The Encroaching Wilderness

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The vibrant red and orange cliffs and spectacular deep canyons of the southwestern United States, the vast salt flats of the Sahara and the rolling sand seas of Arabia, the huge alluvial fans buttressing the high Andes, the steppes of Patagonia, the blood-red Ayers Rock towering over an arid plain in Australia--formed over the course of millions of years, the deserts of the Earth offer landscapes of breathtaking diversity and beauty. Now, in Deserts, general readers have an authoritative, comprehensive, and ...
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Overview


The vibrant red and orange cliffs and spectacular deep canyons of the southwestern United States, the vast salt flats of the Sahara and the rolling sand seas of Arabia, the huge alluvial fans buttressing the high Andes, the steppes of Patagonia, the blood-red Ayers Rock towering over an arid plain in Australia--formed over the course of millions of years, the deserts of the Earth offer landscapes of breathtaking diversity and beauty. Now, in Deserts, general readers have an authoritative, comprehensive, and stunningly beautiful guide to the people, flora, and fauna of these stark regions.
Boasting informative and appealing new maps, photographs, and artwork, this lavishly illustrated volume covers all of the major deserts of the world, from the badlands of North America, to the hyper-arid Namib desert where ocean fog sweeps the land at night, to the high-altitude Karakoram Desert of Pakistan where temperatures drop so low that rocks shatter. We see the remarkable adaptations animals make to survive inhospitable conditions. The spadefoot toad, for instance, passes time between infrequent rains by burrowing several feet into moist soil, living up to nine months without food or water. Even more remarkable, some specimens of desert moss in museums have been known to recover and grow after more than a century without water. We also get a glimpse of the peoples living in or on the margins of arid lands, ranging from the Bushmen of the Kalahari and the nomadic tribes of the Middle East and Asia, to the Mormons by the Great Salt Lake in Utah and the farmers of the Texas Panhandle, who used some 50,000 wells sunk into the Ogallala aquifer to irrigate their lands. Equally important, Deserts is a comprehensive reference work, featuring an extensive atlas section that maps the world's deserts region by region, charting their growth, the location of resources such as ores and petroleum, and the patterns of human settlement. This section also covers key issues of individual deserts--from pollution and development to religion and desert warfare. Thus it is both a fascinating read for armchair travelers and an authoritative factbook on the deserts of the world.
Perhaps most important of all, Deserts provides readers with a thoughtful look at the ecological issues that confront people living in arid regions. Written in conjunction with the World Conservation Union, it illuminates the ways in which human activities affect the fragile balance of desert ecosystems and the changes we need to make in the ways we use the desert.

Formed over the course of millions of years, the deserts of the Earth offer landscapes of breathtaking diversity and beauty. Now readers have an authoritative and stunning guide to the people, flora, and fauna of these stark regions, from the vast salt flats of the Sahara to the rolling sand seas of Arabia to the spectacular canyons of the southwestern U.S. 210 color illustrations.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
The editors of this book have very different but complementary backgrounds: Allan is a Middle Eastern expert at the University of London while Warren is a geomorphologist at University College, London, and a specialist in desert sand and dunes. Aimed at a wide general audience, this attractive book covers all aspects of deserts: their physical features, plant and animal life, human inhabitants, oil and mineral resources, desertification, and conservation. The book's longest chapter gives individual attention to each of the world's major deserts and desert regions. Deserts is liberally and beautifully illustrated with striking color photographs and maps. The text and illustrations work well together to provide a brief but excellent introduction to the subject. Recommended for high school and public libraries; also suitable for undergraduate college library collections.-- William Wiese, Iowa State Univ. Lib., Ames
School Library Journal
YA-From the mesmerizing jacket photograph of sidewinder tracks in the sand, to the striking interior image of circular irrigation furrows, this book is a feast for the eyes as well as the mind. Many of the photos dramatically express the contrasts of the desert and belie the myth of ugly aridity that underlies many misconceptions about this wilderness. This is a scholarly and informative work as well as an eye-opening explication of the life and seasons of the world's deserts. The authors have filled it with extensive narration; a useful index; excellent maps, diagrams, satellite photographs, and other very clear visual explanations; and descriptions of the characteristics and formations of these lands throughout the world. The focus is on the environmental impact of these habitats as they are meant to be as well as what they are becoming; it is chillingly described. There is hope, however, and the message is well delivered. A valuable tool for papers and projects that is well written and compelling.-Susan H. Woodcock, Potomac Library, Woodbridge, VA
Booknews
A desert appreciation intended for a general audience. The text dispels some common misconceptions and then describes various facets of the ecosystem, including its peoples. Desert resources and the challenge of conservation are discussed. Abundantly illustrated with color photos and maps. Includes a glossary, but inexplicably, no index. 9.25x12" Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195209419
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 1/28/1993
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 176
  • Product dimensions: 9.38 (w) x 11.88 (h) x 0.95 (d)

Meet the Author

About the Editors:
Tony Allan is Chair of the Centre of Middle Eastern Studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, and Vice-President of the British Society for Middle Eastern Studies.
Andrew Warren is a geomorphologist at University College, London. His research speciality is desert sand and dunes. His work has taken him to Sudan, Libya, Algeria, Niger, Nebraska, India, Australia, Israel, Egypt, Oman, and Namibia.

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