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The Sahara

The Sahara is the quintessence of isolation, epitomizing both remoteness and severity of environment unlike any other place on the face of the earth. Replete with myths and fictions, it is a wild land, dotted with oases and camel trains trudging through sand dunes that roll like the waves on a sea, as far as the distant horizon. But this is just part of the picture. The largest desert in the world, the Sahara ranges from the river Nile running through Egypt and Sudan in the east, to the Atlantic coast from Morocco to Mauritania in the west; stretching from the Atlas Mountains and the shores of the Mediterranean in the north, to the fluid Sahelian fringe that delineates the desert in the south. Invaders and traders have come and gone for millennia, but the Sahara is also the place that some people call home. While larger than the continental United States, this vast area contains only three million people: Africans and Arabs, Berber and Bedu, Tuareg and Tebu. Eamonn Gearon explores the history, culture, and terrain of a place whose name is familiar to all, but known to few. Conquered and Cursed from the 50,000-strong army of Cambyses, swallowed in a sandstorm in the sixth century BC, to the us marines first foreign engagement, in 1805; Hannibal and his elephants, Caesar against Anthony and Cleopatra, Alexander the Great, the armies of Islam, Napoleon, and Rommel versus Monty. Myths and Mysteries: from whales in the White desert to the arrival of camels in the Great Sand Sea; chariots of the gods and colonialists' motor-cars; from the Land of the dead to Timbuktu; salt and gold mines, fields of oil and gas and a man-made river. Artists, Writers and Filmmakers: from the ancient rock art of the Tassili frescoes to the modernism of Matisse and Klee; from Ibn Battuta to Paul Bowles; from Beau Geste's French Foreign Legion to Star Wars. CONQUERED and CURSED: From the 50,000-strong army of Cambyses, swallowed in a sandstorm in the Sixth century BC, to the US Marines first foreign engagement, in 1805, countless invaders have fought and died from the heart of the desert "to the shores of Tripoli." The legion of names includes Hannibal and his elephants, Caesar against Anthony and Cleopatra, Alexander the Great, the Armies of Islam, Napoleon, and Rommel versus Monty. MYTHS and MYSTERIES, from ANCIENT EMPIRES to MODERN NATIONS: From whales in the White Desert to the arrival of camels in the Great Sand Sea; from chariots of the gods to motor-cars of the colonialists; from the Land of the Dead to Timbuktu; mines of salt and gold, fields of oil and gas, and a Man-Made River. ARTISTS, WRITERS, and FILMMAKERS: From the ancient rock art of the Tassili frescoes to the modernist canvases of Matisse and Klee; From Ibn Battuta to Paul Bowles, via St. Augustine and Saint-Exupery; From Beau Geste's French Foreign Legion to the inter-stellar Star Wars, via Ice Cold in Alex and The English Patient. The Sahara inspired them all.
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About the Author

Eamonn Gearon is a writer and Arabist. For the past twenty years, he has lived in the Greater Middle East, focusing on policy issues, both as an analyst and a professor.


'A succinct and successful summary of the past, present and future of this surprisingly busy desert.'--Michael Palin 'A wonderful book that is as rich as the Sahara is austere; educational, informative and inspiring.'--Tim Butcher, author of Blood River and Chasing the Devil 'A painstaking study of a remarkable terrain and its equally extraordinary inhabitants.'--Mick Herron, Geographical Magazine 'With the 'Arab Spring' affecting much of North Africa, this book provides a very useful introduction to exactly how the region has reached its present situation.' --Dr Trevor James, Historical Association 'The enormous research that must have been undertaken to compile such a work is a great credit to Eamonn Gearon. It is a well written book that armchair and desert travellers will appreciate. Explorers should certainly have a copy in their libraries.'--Col. John Blashford-Snell, OBE, President of the Scientific Exploration Society

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