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Sahara Hardcover – Bargain Price, April 11, 2003


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Hardcover, Bargain Price, April 11, 2003
$18.34 $12.24

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--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books (April 11, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312305419
  • ASIN: B0006H8NVK
  • Product Dimensions: 10.6 x 7.5 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,586,854 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Fifty years after he was given his first book, Tales from the Arabian Nights, consummate traveler and Monty Python founding member Palin trekked to Francophone Africa, believing that the Sahara embodies "the thin line between survival and destruction, the power to take life or to transform it." Fortunately for his readers, the Sahara seems to have transformed Palin (Around the World in 80 Days, Full Circle). This tie-in to the Bravo series airing in April consists of Palin's journal entries, full of his trademark self-deprecating humor (writing about the far-removed city of Djenne, which a British tour group nonetheless infiltrated, Palin confesses that "I know I shouldn't feel this way, but when I'm asked if I've ever been to Stoke-on-Trent all my romantic illusions of desert travel begin to wilt"). But Palin is also a piquant political observer (he notes that African women may be "by nature more direct, more open, more honest and considerably less submissive than their menfolk expect them to be"), and the Sahara's exoticism frequently inspires him to craft beautiful descriptions (the bizarre "battleship-grey" baobab trees "look like some prehistorical arboreal throwback, gnarled and twisted like old prize-fighters"). Readers looking for engaging, detailed insight to the Sahara will hit paydirt here, although newcomers to Palin's work may find themselves dismayed by his ubiquitous appearance in the photographs that dot nearly every page of this book. 175 color and b&w photos.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"Brisk, fresh ... makes you want to go where he has gone, if not necessarily to eat camel liver." -Daily Telegraph UK

"A good-humored romp through the greatest desert on earth." -Spectator UK

"A classic for the armchair traveler ... one is left full of admiration for the good-natured patience of our genial guide." -Ireland on Sunday
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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See all 25 customer reviews
It gives a good picture of this vast desert region.
J. Robinson
Although it's unlikely that this book will become a classic of travel literature, it's well-written and an easy read.
saskatoonguy
Palin's descriptions of the Sahara are interesting, informative, and sometimes funny as well.
magellan

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Smallchief on May 10, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I had low expectations on reading this book and was surprised that it turned out to be so good. The photos are excellent; Palin is amusing and informative. He is self effacing and likeable rather than being a movie star on tour.

Palin and a film crew spent 99 days -- in several trips -- to travel nearly 10,000 miles in the Sahara. Their trip starts in Gibraltar and continues in a big circle through Morocco, Western Sahara, Mauritania, Senegal, Mali, Niger, Libya, Algeria, and back to Morocco. The Sahara countries they missed are Egypt, Chad, and Sudan. The book is in the form of a daily diary and Palin reports hilariously on the status of his bowels as well as the more touristic daily events.

Ninety-nine days of travel in an area as large as the United States doesn't permit profound insights -- and Palin doesn't overreach. Examples of the highlights of the book include a section on Niger where for a few days Palin and his crew live in the desert by taking a camel caravan into the formidable Tenere region. In Algeria he travels to the mountain refuge of a French missionary in the Hoggar, about where one would say is the exact center of the Sahara, and follows it with a visit to an oil field and its modern technology, green lawns, and technicians, Arab and foreign. He gives a good description of obscure and unknown Western Sahara where reigns a tense cease fire between Morocco and the Polisario. His attitude throughout is good-natured.

If you would like a quick tour of the Sahara, including the landscape, the people, the problems, the politics, and the economy, this is a good book. The high-quality color photos enhance the text.

Smallchief
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By magellan HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on January 2, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I just had a few miscelleneous comments on this book.

Not being familiar with Palin's previous travel adventures I had no expectations about this book, but I was pleasantly surprised. If it's possible to write a witty, funny, and entertaining travelogue about perhaps the most forbidding and unforgiving place on the planet, Palin does it here in this very well done book. Palin's descriptions of the Sahara are interesting, informative, and sometimes funny as well. The photos are superb and really complement the text. Being a biologist by education, I knew that the Sahara wasn't a single unremitting expanse of sand waiting to trap hapless travellers or anyone foolish enough to try to cross it unaided, but I was surprised at the diversity of habitats, plants, and animals that can be be found there, not to mention the many tribes and cultures who live in and around the Sahara itself. Palin also gives you a feel for some of these cultures and their history and I enjoyed that too. Also I enjoy architecture and the photos of the mosque at Djenna are really stunning, truly an architectural flower of the desert if there ever was one. Overall, a fine book on this vast but still misunderstood area of the world.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Martin Mulcahey on August 13, 2004
Format: Hardcover
It really pains me not to give a Palin travelogue 5 stars, I just find this to be the weakest of an otherwise excellent lot. So the rating is more because Sahara suffers by comparison, buy the others first and save this one for last. Perhaps because in this travel Palin is a bit more confined in the range of personalities and cultures he meets? Still good stuff, but not great.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Nelson Aspen on July 20, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Michael Palin, who did such a marvelous job with his Hemingway and Himalayan travel adventures in both TV and book forms, brings similar success to a less palatable subject: Sahara. This lovely book, filled with colorful and excellent photography, is Palin's very personal story of his 9 country/10,000 mile odyssey. He is a wonderful raconteur and guide.

The Sahara, as beautiful and vibrant as it is dangerous and deadly is exquisitely revealed...warts and all.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Aimee Thor on July 20, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I listened to this book on CD while I wallpapered my bathroom and it made the time go so fast! It is beautifully written and so easy to listen to. Palin is a master story teller and brings Africa to life with this book. Wonderful!!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By J. Robinson on December 23, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I checked this book and to my dismay it has a ranking of about 80,000. on the Amazon.com sales list. Frankly I do not understand why it is so low since it is such a good book.

It has three things going for the book.

It is by Palin, so it is witty and funny and just an all round good read. It is broken down like a diary and explains his trip day by day, where he goes, who he meets, what the area and the people are like. It gives a good picture of this vast desert region. When you read this book you appreciate that there are too many good books and unfortunately that you cannot read them all. If you have time make room in your schedule to read this book.

It covers his journey across northern Africa in a very personal way, and goes to places that are not in the news and probably you will never visit. He mixes with the natives and it is all very illuminating.

Finally he has three sets of beautiful photographs in bright and excellent color that transmit a nice feel for what he sees on the trip.

All in all I think it is a good book worth three or four stars.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Dai-keag-ity on October 2, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Michael Palin's treks have taken him around the world but this journey through the Sahara seemed to bring something out in him I hadn't found in his other books. He described his lifelong fascination with the world of the desert and spoke of it with terminology that shrewdly built up an undercurrent of expectation that this was a dangrous undertaking. Life exists in the great African desert by balancing on a razor's edge, and Palin took us very close to that edge as he made his way from one side of this "living wasteland" to the other. He met desert dwellers whose lifestyle hadn't varied in millennia. He also met those who resided in cities whose seemingly tenuous hold was revealed as deception when one considers that some of those population centers have stood since the iron age. Palin passes through the sands on camel-back, on trucks, and on foot. He introduces us to the strange and the beautiful and the shocking alike. Whenever I read something like this I am always left struck in a child-like way by how vast and many-faceted our earth is. That I share the planet with terrain and cultures like those whose lands he passed through is shocking even though, of course, I "knew" that I did.

Palin is a bold explorer and makes a fine guide to the most remote corners of this world. This may be his most intense and personally-meaningful expedition. I was left with the sense that he respected the Sahara as he had noplace else he'd ever gone.
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