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The sheltering desert [Paperback]

Henno Martin
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)

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Product details

  • Paperback: 370 pages
  • Publisher: two books; New edition (1 Jun 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0000CJTBK
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 7,321,659 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning inside what real survival is about 21 Jan 2008
Format:Paperback
The book of Henno Martin are his memories of living in the Namib desert in Southern Africa with his friend Hermann and the dog Otto from 1939 to 1942.
They, being German origin, decide to escape a possible internation by the British Colonial Power in Namibia after Germany had started the 2nd World War in 1939. They hope not to get involved into anything about that war and therefore decide to hide somewhere in the vast Namib Desert not to be found by the British authorities.

The book leads after one page right to the beginning of their adventure and describes chronologically, very clear and simple to read how they start trying to survive in that harsh, but also beautiful desert environment.

The search for water, the difficulty of successful hunting, the difficulties to perserve meat after successful hunting, periods of starvation, living in loneliness, the wonders of the desert all these are getting described very powerful. Some b/w picture give the reader a glimpse about the simplicity of their live and the beauty of the desert and its wildlife.

Additionally there are sections that recall the thoughts and discussions of Henno and Hermann during this long and lonely three years about how evolution has prepared wild life to survive in the harsh desert and what could have been the most basic driving forces for this evolution.

A wonderful book, stunning and unforgettable. Every person who will read it will get a very detailed and still unheroic inside in what survival in the desert really means.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The True Desert Experience. 13 Sep 2012
By Bob Salter TOP 100 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
There do not appear to be many copies of this great little book left, which is good from a personal point of view because my copy might actually increase in value, but bad from the fact that the public will be denied the chance of a great read. Henno Martin and his pal Hermann Korn showed the sort of determination and resourcefulness that Bear Grylls and Ray Meares could wax eloquently about. Their journey was one of great friendship and hardship that took them back to the times of their paleolithic ancestors. A journey deep into mans primeval hunting origins.

The two men were German geologists based in what is now Namibia at the outbreak of World War Two. To avoid internment they decided to hide in the desert with their faithful dog Otto where they intended to live off the land until the war ended. Neither wanted any part in a war they considered mindless. Both men were practical and showed that typical Germanic determination in the face of adversity. Armed only with a dodgy pistol they hunted their prey in an arid landscape. They drank from waterholes that most stomachs could not accept. But doggedly they kept going and gradually the desert began to open up its secrets to them.

To hunt the animals they had to understand the umwelt of a particular prey. How that animal thought. The world it inhabited. As they did so their hunting improved and in their dreams they dreamed of animals, becoming like the paleolithic painters of Chauvet cave in southern France featured in Werner Herzog's fascinating documentary "Cave of Forgotten Dreams", or the painter of the famous dying bison at Altimira in Spain. These painters lived and breathed the hunt, and they knew the animal almost as it knew itself. Something we have lost today but that Martin and Korn came close to grasping once again.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
Anyone who is interested in understanding the nature of man, the meaning of human social behaviour and evolution and, more in general, the deeper and spiritual meaning of life, cannot miss this book. This book is the incredible account of two German geologists that, in 1940 in order to escape the military service during the Second World War fled in the Namib Desert where they spent two and half years, leaving alone and often suffering hunger and thirst. "We had lived with the lovely beasts of the wilderness....savagely as beasts of prey....often eating with blood still in our hands. Nevertheless, we had lived as thinking, sensitive men. The ruthless struggle for existence had not made us brutal but given us an understanding far beyond the narrow limits of our life in the desert. We had learned that life could transmute bad into good, and extract both beauty and significance from ordinary things. We had learned that there is a force capable of judgement in all life; in other words a spiritual force...that transcend the rigid course of the inanimate world". An extraordinay experience and a unique book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing 4 Feb 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
What a wonderful book. It's a cross between a survival manual, a travel guide and a search for universal understanding of the human condition. Page after page it really immerses the reader in the world they lived in. A great read set in a beautiful country.... 5 Stars
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By Leza H
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
For anyone who likes travel literature and true life adventures - this is a must read book. Superb life escape account of true events; 2 German men and their dog Otto living wild in the Namibian desert during the second world war - I borrowed this book from a friend and loved it - why it is out of print I will never understand. Seek this book out with other amazon market place sellers and treat yourself; as good as anything written by Theroux, Chatwin, Newby etc and with great humour. Just bought a copy as a gift for my Father as I enjoyed it so much and about to order another copy to keep for myself as I know I will want to return to this book again and again.
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