This history relates the human consequences of the remorseless spread of the Great Desert that now stretches in almost unbroken continuity from Mauritania's Atlantic seaboard through the Middle East and Central Asia to the Great Wall of China. The author seeks to understand how the great civilizations in the original "green lands" of North Africa, Ancient Egypt, the Middle East, South Asia and China responded and changed under the pressure of invaders fleeing growing environmental degradation in the surrounding deserts. Drawing upon immmense detail, Brian Griffiths charts the effects of the expanding wasteland on human society - the very different religious beliefs that became dominant; huge shifts in the relative standing of men and women; new, more antagonistic attitudes to nature; and much more autoritarian systems of government. He describes how successive waves of refugees from the arid lands - Aryans, Huns, Mongols and many others - launched themselves on aggressive paths of migration and conquest. This book demonstrates the necessity of taking timely steps to prevent environmental pressures from putting humane institutions under irresistible strain.