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Florence Williams[Middleton's] best when he loses the camera shtick and lets loose his inner geographer. His academic specialty is deserts, and the section on the Tenere in Niger is his strongest. Here the reader can learn something, as when Middleton explains that the concept of desertification is mainly bunk. Contrary to popular wisdom, he writes, sands are not taking over northern Africa; the region is simply in the throes of seasonal drought cycles to which nomads have adapted delicately.
— The New York Times