The Immeasurable World: Journeys in Desert Places

The Immeasurable World: Journeys in Desert Places

For all the desert's dreamlike beauty, to travel here was not just to pitch yourself into oblivion: it was to grind away at yourself until nothing was left. It was to aspire to the condition of sand.

One third of the earth's land surface is desert, much of it desolate and inhospitable. What is it about this harsh environment that has captivated humankind throughout history? From the prophets of the Bible to Marco Polo, Lawrence of Arabia to Gertrude Bell, travellers have often seen deserts as cursed places to be avoided, or crossed as quickly as possible. But for those whose call deserts home, the 'hideous blanks' described by explorers are rich in resources and significance.

Travelling to five continents over three years, visiting deserts both iconic and little-known, William Atkins discovers a realm that is as much internal as physical. His journey takes him to the Arabian Peninsula's Empty Quarter and Australia's nuclear-test grounds; the dry Aral Sea of Kazakhstan and 'sand seas' of China's volatile north-west; the contested borderlands of Arizona and the riotous Burning Man festival in Nevada's Black Rock Desert; and the ancient monasteries of Egypt's Eastern Desert. Along the way, Atkins illuminates the people, history, topography, and symbolism of these remarkable but often troubled places.

Reviving the illustrious British tradition of travel writing, The Immeasurable World is destined to become a classic of desert literature.

Title:The Immeasurable World: Journeys in Desert Places
ISBN:9780571319725
Format Type:

About William Atkins


    The Immeasurable World: Journeys in Desert Places Reviews

  • Antigone

    The heart stumbles.She leaves, and his thoughts drift to the desert. His literary instincts lure him to the books, propel him to the studies, set for him a feast of symbolic attractions. Here are the ...

  • Paul

    Atkins is the latest one to be drawn to those impenetrable places, deserts. He joins an illustrious list of explorers and people who are seeking something amongst the arid sands. The geographer defini...

  • Rose

    This is a book about tbe author's wanderings through the deserts of the world. We learn how each desert looks as well as a bit about the people that live in each. I found this book fascinating and if ...

  • Rebecca

    (3.5) Atkins has produced an appealing blend of vivid travel anecdotes, historical background and philosophical musings. He is always conscious that he is treading in the footsteps of earlier adventur...

  • Eric

    * Truly fascinating exploration of the world's deserts. It is really quite astonishing how humanity has thrived and survived in such a climate.* I received a free copy of the book in a Goodreads givea...

  • Tory

    I almost gave this book 4 stars instead of 5 because I could not 'categorize' it. It combines history, theology, philosophy,politics, science, travelogue, literature, poetry ..... about 8 deserts arou...

  • Bronwen Griffiths

    I love visiting deserts and love reading about them. William Atkins is a fantastic guide. A mix of the personal - including meetings with local people - plus historical and political context makes thi...

  • Diane

    I won this book in a Goodreads first-reads giveaway.An interesting, eye-opening, thought provoking and immersive book about several of the worlds deserts, how they are different, yet the same....

  • Susan Csoke

    An intriguing story of one mans travels through five continents and eight deserts. Thankyou Goodreads for this free book!!!!...

  • Andrew

    I'm not quite sure what this book was meant to be. I’m not sure it knows either. From the opening parts it looks like a history of the conquering of certain deserts, with the author kind of followin...