A Sahara Unveiled: A Journey Across the Desert

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Overview

In our imagination, the desert is a scorching flatland, a palm grove like a shimmering green line floating in the distance, an ocean of dunes. You can close your eyes to see it. When William Langewiesche set out to document the state of the Sahara desert he was determined to see just what came before his eyes: nothing more or less. The result is an unsentimentalized, often startling account of the desert. From the southernmost Mediterranean to the African Savannah and west to the Atlantic, Langewiesche's trek ...
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Sahara Unveiled: A Journey Across the Desert

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Overview

In our imagination, the desert is a scorching flatland, a palm grove like a shimmering green line floating in the distance, an ocean of dunes. You can close your eyes to see it. When William Langewiesche set out to document the state of the Sahara desert he was determined to see just what came before his eyes: nothing more or less. The result is an unsentimentalized, often startling account of the desert. From the southernmost Mediterranean to the African Savannah and west to the Atlantic, Langewiesche's trek took him through the hyper-arid core of the desert, a terrain that taunts the imagination with its unalterable desolation. Here cadavers decompose like sun-dried dates, horizons are so barren that stones are mistaken for trucks, distances so empty that migrating birds have been observed seeking the company of humans. Langewiesche's descriptions of the physical desert are brilliantly matched by his explorations of its psychological landscape: the bitter colonial history, the stoicism of the nomads, the austerity of Islam. Despite the passing of the camel and the caravan, the Sahara remains without compromise. William Langewiesche blends history and reportage, anthropology and anecdote, into an unforgettable portrait of the unsubdued heart of the Sahara unveiled.
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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.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780679750062
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 6/28/1997
  • Series: Vintage Departures Series
  • Edition description: Reprinted Edition
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 830,058
  • Product dimensions: 5.20 (w) x 7.99 (h) x 0.83 (d)

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 5 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 15, 2014

    Sun

    Me too...

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 15, 2014

    Kenny

    Uh......l'll be at camp.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 15, 2014

    Rare Change

    *wakes up and walks out*

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 30, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Sahara travel at it's best

    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.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 13, 2000

    The Living Desert

    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.

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