Martin Buckley has travelled both across and into deserts, in order to discover how people live there, to explore the desert's grip on human imagination, and to probe its impact on the global environment.
Deserts are the least changed regions on earth - yet they are subject to extraordinary transformation. These arid wildernesses may embody quintessential emptiness, but they are rich in flora, fauna and human life. Desert dwellers have special qualities of self-reliance and - perhaps because vulnerability engenders mutual dependence - hospitality. Lifestyles can be astonishingly divergent - from nomad to salt lake fisherman, Australian cave dweller to the American in his mobile home.
One a more practical level, Buckley visits the earth's "newest" deserts in Africa, exploring ways to return such areas to fertility. He also evokes the profound and violent intensity of heat, which may keep people indoors throughout the summer in the Thar desert, but which also stimulates human ingenuity in the art of survival as well as inspiring rich artistic and religious traditions.
Contains full colour photographs.