SAHARA UNVEILED: A Journey Across the Desert

by William Langewiesche

Hardcover, 1996




Pantheon (1996), 301 pages


A restless, curious, at times dark ramble through Saharan outposts from Atlantic montly correspondent Langewiesche.

User reviews

LibraryThing member Stbalbach
Langewiesch is an American author who writes for the Atlantic Monthly magazine. This is travel literature about his solo trip through Algeria, Niger and and Mali in the 1990s by way of public transportation, crossing the Sahara. As with all great travel/adventure books it is more than just exciting stories, it offers insights into life, how we live it, the choices we make. All the while providing unforgettable stories about life in the desert on a personal level from the people who live there.… (more)
LibraryThing member artnking
This book contains a series of compelling stories, woven together in travel. You will find vivid mental pictures of the people and the landscape.
LibraryThing member bezoar44
This is William Langewiesche's second book, published in 1996 after his 1994 Cutting for Sign, about the Mexican-American border. A jacket blurb describes Sahara Unveiled as possessing 'a finely observed, austere beauty', but that's not quite right. The sentences are short, often blunt. But the book seems less a contemplation of the desert's beauty than an expression of the voyager's acedia, built from being too long on the road; homesick for family; depressed by the squalor in which people live; disgusted by the complicity of wealthy Western governments and tourists in the decline of the Tauregs and West Africans; and overwhelmed by his own incapacity to provide help to the people who need it most. Unlike many travel writers, Langewiesche keeps his own emotional journey mostly to himself; the book is about the people he meets and the places he visits. And yet, his world-weariness seeps in through sardonic short sentences, interspersed folk-tales, and the sketches of many of the natives and expats he meets. It informs his skepticism of others' aphorisms -- "[French travelers] say things like 'you are never alone in the desert', which is wrong but sounds right"(42) -- while he's busy spinning aphorisms of his own: "The certainty of such sparseness can be a lesson....The desert teaches by taking away." (7) Overall, this is an informative window onto the Sahara and the Sahel in the mid-1990s, but it's a book to make you glad you've stayed home, not to kindle a wanderlust to see it for yourself.… (more)


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