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Libyan Sands: Travel in a Dead World Kindle Edition

4.8 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Length: 228 pages Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled

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Review

A classic work of Sahara exploration, first published in 1935, this is the history behind The English Patient. Bagnold was one of a group of eccentric British and Empire explorers whose passionate, amateur enthusiasm led to groundbreaking exploration of the Egyptian western desert and the Libyan Sahara on the eve of the Second World War. --Country Life, 15 December 2010

In 1935, army officer Ralph Bagnold wrote his account of the explorations that he and his colleagues made into the Libyan Desert. Because of its extent and aridity, this desert, the size of India, had been little explored until this was made possible by the motor car ... It s entirely appropriate that a new generation of readers will benefit from this new edition of one of the classics of exploration. --Geographical Magazine, January 2011

...This classic account of their exploits, re-issued by Eland, is captivating. Beginning with naïve skids, they are soon venturing to the Pyramids and risking life and limb to glimpse little-known Petra. They graduate to daredevil expeditions, trundling thousands of miles into the dead world of East Africa, and changing desert exploration forever. --Wanderlust, January 2011

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 8134 KB
  • Print Length: 228 pages
  • Publisher: Eland Publishing (1 Dec. 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00B9CO5H2
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #461,362 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Format: Paperback
To most Brits Wilfred Thesiger is the definitive desert explorer, but I believe Ralph Bagnold should be considered in the same category. He really was quite an exceptional guy and Libyan Sands must be the best Saharan yarn written by a Brit (although at the time Brits did not consider this as the 'Sahara' but the separate 'Libyan Desert'). It describes his motor-car adventures and explorations while stationed in Cairo in the 1920s and early 30s. Using Model T Fords loaded down at times with 150 gallons of fuel, Ralph and his chums spent every spare moment of leave exploring the Libyan Desert of Egypt and northern Sudan. His enthusiasm for (often literally) pushing the spindly, steaming Fords across uncharted ergs helped develop the desert driving techniques we still use today such as sand ladders and low tyre pressures.

What is striking is that Bagnold's passionate attraction for the desert is almost contemporary, while his drive and curiosity led, among other things, to 'The Physics of Blown Sand', the first account of sand formations and features (for geology graduates only). As WWII set in he was involved with establishing the LRDG and comes across in the much-admired mould of the self-effacing Brit hero, never complaining or boasting while enacting extraordinary feats of exploration. It is interesting to compare him to a contemporary and rival, the Hungarian Laszlo Almasy (on who the 'English Patient' character was very fictionally based) who also explored the region by car (his book 'Unknown Sahara' is available in English as a bootleg pdf).
Libyan Sands includes Bagnold's potted history of the exploration of the Libyan Desert up to that time, as well as a prescient spin on the enduring Zerzura legend. An underrated classic so it's great to see this book back in print.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Libyan Sands is a real adventure book, written by a British soldier stationed in Colonial Egypt between the Great Wars. He knows everyone. He is wealthy and privileged in modern 21C terms. He can buy a car, ship it to Egypt and arrange petrol, then drive with likewise supplied friends all around the Middle East. In social terms it shows a world that no longer exists. Bagnold describes the great desert, as playground, as enemy, as landscape that awaits explanation, as historical example (the slave routes out of Africa, were still marked by trail of bones, both human and camels. The slaves were driven without water for days on end, they died and were shoved to the side.) A fascinating story of the last century!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a fantastic book, full of interest and adventure. It is amazing what those guys achieved. When Bagnold wanted to continue his exploration of the Libyan desert after being posted to the North West Frontier, and found there was no suitable public transport, he casually decided to drive from what is now Pakistan to Egypt. When their cars broke down in the desert they would think nothing of changing a crankshaft or differential out among the sand dunes. It is written in a wonderful easy style, modest and unassuming, yet entertaining and amusing. How the world has changed. If Bagnold wanted assistance he would simply call on the local District Commissioner and all would be arranged. A great read, highly recommended.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Having travelled the Western desert myself I was keen to take a look at some of the historical adventurers. This gives an insight into the early adventurers who discovered ancient trails which can still be seen to-day.
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Format: Paperback
Well worth reading if you work in earth sciece related to desert/dryland environments. His scholarly work The Physics of Blown Sand and Desert (Dover Earth Science) is a classic in it's field and I use it regularly, so reading about his travels was fascinating.
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