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السبت، 28 ديسمبر 2013 - Free Search Engine Submission Service - Top 100 - Free Search Engine Submission Service - Top 100

الأحد، 28 يوليو 2013

Top 10 Books About Deserts

Top 10 Books About Deserts

Wilfred Thesiger, (1910 – 2003)
Wilfred Thesiger, (1910 – 2003)
About 37,000 years ago the last of the Neanderthals were becoming extinct in Europe. The world’s largest sand desert, the Rub’ al Khali, was failing to live up to its modern sobriquet, the empty quarter (known to the Bedouin as ‘the sands’). Hippos, grazing deer and water buffalo drank from lakes and ponds. Even today the Rub’ al Khali is home to more than thirty different plant species and twenty different birds. The word desert is borrowed from Old French desert, from Late Latin desertum, literally, thing abandoned.
San Gorgonio Pass - Richard Misrach: Desert Cantos
San Gorgonio Pass – Richard Misrach: Desert Cantos
Travellers and writers have long been attracted to deserts, places of wonder that offer that combination of disturbance and delight that make up enchantment, a suspension of chronological time, a ‘moment of pure presence.’ The list below comprises a personal top 10 of books about deserts. Please feel free to add your own suggestions in the comments section.
  1. Arabian Sands, by Wilfred Thesiger – This is the Urtext. Apart from the Badu that live there, Thesiger was the first traveller that crossed the Rub’ al Khali twice, and the only one to write so extensively of the time before oil was discovered. The way of life he depicted has long disappeared.
  2. Desert Divers by Sven Lindqvist – For a slight book, Lindqvist combines autobiography, history and diverse biographies. Named after the well diggers that descend 50-60 metres to build and clean wells in unstable desert sand.
  3. Daisy Bates in the Desert by Julia Blackburn – Daisy Bates’s memorial in Ooldea in the deserts of Southern Australia, reads ‘Daisy Bates devoted her life here and elsewhere to the welfare of the Australian Aboriginals.’ Julia Blackburn’s book tells the story of the woman that, at the age of 54, wandered into the outback and lived there for nearly 30 years. (thanks to flowerville)
  4. The Lives of the Desert Fathers: The Historia Monachorum in Aegypto – Biographies of twenty-six ascetics as they travel through the Egyptian desert. Whatever belief system you subscribe to, these are extraordinary tales of monks and hermits living enchanted lives.  (There were also desert mothers - Marilyn Dunn’s The Emergence of Monasticism: From the Desert Fathers to the Early Middle Ages devotes a chapter to Women in Early Monasticism, thank you DZ).
  5. Desert Cantos by Richard Misrach – spectacular photographs of the American desert. Misrach’s landscapes offer an apocalyptic, post-human interpretation of these primordial places.
  6. Desert Tracings: Six Classic Arabian Odes by ‘Alqama, Shánfara, Labíd, ‘Antara, Al-A’sha, and Dhu al-Rúmma (translated by Michael A. Sells) – Winners of poetry competitions held during annuals fair at ‘Ukaz, near Mecca, these six odes offer a matchless encounter with an ancient, sophisticated culture.
  7. The Nomad: Diaries of Isabelle Eberhardt (translated by Nina de Voogd) – Partial diaries of an utterly  remarkable woman who converted to Islam and devoted her life to travelling the Sahara.
  8. The Woman in the Dunes by Kōbō Abe – also a breathtaking film, Abe’s book is a bit of a stretch in this list. Are the dunes in a desert? I don’t know but I could not resist listing Abe’s crisply written and compelling tale of an entomologist who becomes trapped in the sand dunes.
  9. Desert by JMG Le Clézio – An atmospheric, beautifully written novel about the lives of the Blue Men, notorious warriors who live in the desert. Sense of place and wonder win over a light plot, but what remains is the sense of the desert’s beauty.
  10. The Crab with the Golden Claws by Hergé – Unapologetically included is this magnificently illustrated tale of Tintin and Captain Haddock’s crossing of the Sahara.


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‘Arabian Sands’ and ‘The Marsh Arabs’
Wilfred Thesiger’s accounts of crossing the Empty Quarter of the Arabian desert and living among the marsh Arabs of Iraq are invaluable as anthropology and thoroughly gripping as action tales.
December 30, 2007, Sunday

    Wannabe Discoverer
    Sir Wilfred Thesiger b. 1910 'The English,'' Prince Faisal tells T.E. Lawrence in the movie ''Lawrence of Arabia,'' ''have a great hunger for desolate places. I think you are another of these desert-loving English.'' With the death of Wilfred Thesiger, age 93, the line of ''desert-loving English'' -- Richard Burton, Charles Doughty, T.E. Lawrence -- comes to an end. Of all of them, Thesiger never wanted to be a writer. He wanted to be a discoverer. But by the time he came along, discovery was...

    December 28, 2003, Sunday

      Wilfred Thesiger, 93, Dies; Explored Arabia
      Wilfred Thesiger, who was among the last of the great explorers lucky enough to have lived when the globe still had some uncharted corners, died on Sunday in England. He was 93 and had been living in a retirement home in Coulsdon, Surrey. Sir Wilfred was an insatiable traveler throughout his long life. He was also a man of private wealth and a romantic who seemed to hate the modern world and found nobility in privation.
      August 27, 2003, Wednesday

        In the Bush With Thesiger
        LEAD: To the Editor:
        May 01, 1988, Sunday

          Barbaric Splendor Suited Him
          LEAD: THE LIFE OF MY CHOICE By Wilfred Thesiger. Illustrated. 459 pp. New York: W. W. Norton & Company. $25.
          March 20, 1988, Sunday

            A Vagabond's Life; Vagabond
            AMONG the more interesting products of the Victo rian era was the explorer/empire-builder, a unique breed of dedicated eccentrics whose wanderings took them across vast tracts of undiscovered Africa, Asia, Australia and into the polar wastes. Livingstone, Lugard, Franklin, Burke ...
            April 20, 1980, Sunday

              Obituary: Sir Wilfred Thesiger

              Wilfred Thesiger in the desert
              Thesiger was inspired by his African childhood

              Sir Wilfred Thesiger, who has died aged 93, spent most of his life roaming the most distant, desolate and inaccessible parts of the world.
              Seemingly armed with little more than an all-encompassing gaze, he travelled with the hardiest and most daring of regional tribesmen.
              His subsequent writings bore witness to both the savagery and beauty of the places and people he met.
              In 1909, Thesiger's father was appointed British minister in charge of the legation at Addis Ababa. Wilfred, his youngest son, was born in the Abyssinian capital the following year.
              The young Thesiger was soon entranced by the place, revelling in the sights and sounds of everyday life.
              Above all, he was inspired by the dramatic return of the emperor's army in 1917, from one of the last great pitched battles between traditional African warriors.
              "I believe that day implanted in me a life-long craving for barbaric splendour, for savagery and colour and the throb of drums,'' he said.

              Following his family's return to England in 1919, Thesiger was educated at Eton and Oxford.

              Wilfred Thesiger with a camel
              Thesiger found the desert a natural home

              Nevertheless, he found ''comradeship more easily among races other than his own" and, for most of his life, he had uneasy relationship with the western world.
              From Oxford, Thesiger set out on the first of his many adventures in Africa. He joined the Sudan Political Service in 1934, and his first appointment was to the remote Kutum district where he lived in a thatched hut.
              It was here that Thesiger fell in love with the desert. In his book, The Life of My Choice, he wrote: ''I was exhilarated by the sense of space, the silence.
              "I felt in harmony with the past, travelling as men had travelled for untold generations across the desert.''

              Meanwhile, Mussolini's invasion of Abyssinia in 1935 served only to strengthen his distrust of the western world. And, even in his 90s, he did nothing to mask his detestation for the forces of globalisation.
              During World War II, Thesiger moved on to Cairo and Trans-Jordan with the Special Operations Executive.
              He fought with the newly established Special Air Service in North Africa, before leaving to become an advisor to Haile Selassie in Abyssinia.

              Wilfred Thesiger's book Arabian Sands
              The first of Thesiger's travelling tales

              In joining the Desert Locusts Research Organisation, he undertook a deeply dangerous journey across the uninhabitable dunes of Arabia - leading to the book, Arabian Sands.

              By this time, Thesiger, the colonial officer and soldier, had effectively been reborn as an explorer and author.
              Thesiger went on to record the lives of the remote peoples and places of Iraq, Persia, Kurdistan, Pakistan, Afghanistan and, more recently, Kenya.

              He rode camels and, amongst others, mixed with a murderous tribe which determined a man's status by the number of men he had killed and castrated.
              Wilfred Thesiger was one of the 20th century's greatest explorers, and his recollections influenced a generation of travel writers including Colin Thubron and Paul Theroux.
              Ill health left him little choice but to spend his last years in a Britain that was largely alien to his desires.
              Knighted in 1995, he would have preferred to stay where his heart lay, in the deserts of Africa or the hills of the Hindu Kush.