The Immeasurable World: Journeys in Desert Places

William Atkins. Doubleday, $28.95 (384p) ISBN 978-0-385-53988-3
British author Atkins takes readers on a thoroughly enjoyable tour of the world’s deserts. After a breakup with his girlfriend of four years and a week spent with Cistercian monks in southwest England, Atkins (The Moor) became obsessed with deserts. His fascination began when he read, in the monastery’s well-stocked library, accounts of desert explorers and he soon became consumed with the desire to “stand in the desert... and imagine what it might to do to a person who abandoned himself to it.” And so began an odyssey that took Atkins to eight deserts across the globe: the Empty Quarter in Oman, the Gobi and Taklamakan in China, Australia’s Great Victoria, the Aral Sea area in Kazakhstan, the Black Rock and Sonoran in the U.S., and Egypt’s Eastern Desert. Interspersed with his own adventures are tales of those who have gone before him, such as Christian missionary Mildred Cable, who traveled the Gobi desert at the turn of the 20th century. Atkins also takes a contemporary look at deserts, describing, for example, the setting of the Burning Man festival in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert. Atkins infuses his travel writing with poetic prose (he describes the Great Australian Bight as “a callused web of skin between two digits”) to describe the beauty of what many consider to be wastelands. Atkins’s thoughtful book is a wonderfully satisfying travelogues. (July)
Reviewed on: 05/14/2018
Release date: 07/24/2018
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 352 pages - 978-0-7710-0770-5
Hardcover - 368 pages - 978-0-7710-0769-9
Paperback - 368 pages - 978-1-101-87341-0
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Audio book sample courtesy of Penguin Random House Audio
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