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4.8 out of 5 stars
17
The Sheltering Desert.
Format: Paperback|Change
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VINE VOICETOP 500 REVIEWERon 13 September 2012
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. To add resonance the pair find ancient arrowheads in places where they camp that were no doubt used by hunters thousands of years before them. Even the last survivors of our paleolithic forebearers the bushmen have gone. None of the true hunters are left. Wells have made them dependent on the modern world as Laurens Van Der Post wrote about in his seminal work "The Bushmen of the Kalahari".

Martin and Korn were both intelligent men and their debates about mans place in the universe and his origins make for good reading. Martin turns out to be an incredibly gifted writer, his descriptions of landscapes up there with the works of Pulitzer prize winning author Cormac Macarthy, whose visceral visions of landscapes in "Blood Meridian" and "The Border Trilogy" take some beating. Was all the suffering these guys went through really worth it? Martin answers this in the affirmative, saying "The desert experience had 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". Their time was definitely not wasted, and it was also responsible for this fascinating and somewhat unique book. Another man well worth reading is Louis Liebenberg the South African who lived and hunted with the bushman gaining a great insight into our past.
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on 4 October 2009
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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on 2 February 2017
Wonderful book from a wonderful country.

This is a true story of two German geologists working in then Deutsches Sud West Afrika (German South West Africa).
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on 15 November 2014
I bought the book for a friend,so can't comment on it.The service however I can comment on;and it was excellent from start to finish,
Many thanks paul wright
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on 4 February 2010
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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on 22 November 2016
A classic of the kind you you just do not get these days. It is not so much about the writing which is a translation of the German anyway, but rather about the human condition and the battle for survival in the harshest of environments.
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on 18 September 2013
Recommended to me before a trip to Namibia - where it is set - this is not a war story. Rather it is a description of how a remote harsh environment impacts two friends and an amazing diversity of wildlife.

My lasting memory is of re-reading it out loud around the campfire amongst a group of friends - very atmospheric.
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on 7 January 2015
Loverly and amazing story.
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on 14 October 2017
Excellent book about desert survival and factual.
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on 9 January 2013
A wonderful book providing insight as to what it was like during the war. Inspired us to visit some of the hiding caves and stayed at a wonderful B&B which was where they revealed themselves. Explored quite a bit of the route they used. Another side of Namibia
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