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Sahara Unveiled: A Journey Across the Desert
     

Sahara Unveiled: A Journey Across the Desert

3.6 5
by William Langewiesche
 

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The world's vastest and most forbidding desert is revealed in all its cruelty and wonder in this masterpiece of contemporary travel writing by the author of Cutting for Sign.

William Langewiesche crossed the Sahara from Algiers to Dakar, determined to see it as its inhabitants do, braving its natural and human dangers and depending on its sparse sustenance and

Overview

The world's vastest and most forbidding desert is revealed in all its cruelty and wonder in this masterpiece of contemporary travel writing by the author of Cutting for Sign.

William Langewiesche crossed the Sahara from Algiers to Dakar, determined to see it as its inhabitants do, braving its natural and human dangers and depending on its sparse sustenance and suspect charity. He was feted by a devout Muslim architect, nearly murdered by a narcissistic arms smuggler, and introduced to merchants, market women, and fixers. He observes the world he traveled through with such acuity and eloquence that Sahara Unveiled hats been compared with the works of Bruce Chatwin, Wilfred Thesiger, and Paul Theroux.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
PW praised this "vivid account" of a journalist's trek from Algiers to Dakar. (July)
Library Journal
Langewiesche's journey begins at the Mediterranean in Algiers. Hitching rides on trucks, he heads south into increasingly desolate territory, passing through the Algerian towns of Biskra and Ta-ranasset, on into Mali, Niger, and finally to Mauritania, on the Atlantic. He is most interested in the present-day people of the Sahara and how they cope with their inhospitable desert environment and with the modern world. A foreign correspondent for the Atlantic Monthly and a commercial pilot, Langewiesche writes in an economical, straightforward style that unflaggingly retains interest. He points out that the old ways of life for Saharans are no longer possible but that attempts at modernization are doomed because the Sahara cannot be subdued. He offers no solutions. In attempting to be "unsentimental," Langewiesche comes across as humorless and relentlessly negative. His assessments seem somewhat distorted by a deeply cynical general attitude and by plain physical discomfort. He is an adventurous traveler but a grumpy one. Recommended for public libraries and African studies collections. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 3/1/96.]Mary C. Kalfatovic, Telesec Lib. Svce., Washington, D.C.
Donna Seaman
Langewiesche is a foreign correspondent for the "Atlantic Monthly", author of "Cutting for Sign" (1993), and a man who knows how to travel lightly, observe intently, and transform his complex experiences into prose as polished as glass. Fascinated by the Sahara, he decided to become intimate with it by traversing its entire, sun-blasted length, from Algiers to Timbuktu, a journey fraught with danger both natural and manmade. Death is always just an empty water jug away, and war, fueled by old ethnic feuds, unfinished business from French colonial times, and radical Islamic groups, is brewing in this vast sandy sea. Langewiesche, commandingly laconic and shrewd, has some very frank things to say about Saharan culture as he chronicles the region's inevitable poverty, ritualized corruption, and abrupt cruelty. Moving effortlessly from his own riveting anecdotes to those of historical import, Langewiesche pauses to explain the physics of sand and the physiology of the camel, analyze the status of Saharan women, describe Neolithic rock art, and characterize the gritty reality of life in isolated oases. An unforgettable and profoundly involving travelogue.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780679429821
Publisher:
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date:
07/15/1996
Pages:
320
Product dimensions:
5.81(w) x 8.55(h) x 1.05(d)

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Sahara Unveiled: A Journey Across the Desert 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Me too...
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Uh......l'll be at camp.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
*wakes up and walks out*
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
So far I've read and reread this book several times. I don't want to travel the Sahara, I'd rather have someone else do it and tell me about it. If I were to do a trip it would certainly be on the order of this one. Mr. Langwiesche is a gifted and accomplished writer skillfully relating his travel experience to places few will ever see. I can't imagine anyone that likes adventure travel not liking this book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Have you ever wanted to escape from the daily routine of the world? Ever wished to travel to a remote destination with nothing but a backpack and na adventurous spirit to rely on? Is your answer is yes, then you can probably quench that craving ¿ even if only vicariously ¿ by reading William Langewiesche¿s `Sahara Unveiled¿. What starts off as just another travel book quickly speeds up in the middle chapters to become a wonderful work of non-fiction, narrowly bordering on religion, history, philosophy, politics, and anthropology as the author paints a harrowingly realistic picture of his journey across the desert. If on the one hand the book lacks warmth (as ludicrous as that may sound it being a narrative on the Sahara), and the author¿s attitude reveals a tinge of cold impersonality, one must also admit that that very attitude allows the reader to see the adventure from a first-person perspective. The descriptions are colourful and the writer has what appears to be an innate talent for defining the characters, for their essences and spirits can be clearly distinguished throughout. The chapters follow Langewiesche¿s route from Algiers to Dakar, stopping at dozens of towns, villages, oases and settlements that dot the vast seas of gravel and sand. Definitely ranking among the best travel books ever written, `Sahara Unveiled ¿ A Journey Across The Desert¿ is a worthwhile read, coming as something of a shock to all those who picture the Sahara as just one vast, lifeless expanse.