If you think the world’s largest desert is an empty wasteland, then you’re in for a surprise.
You’ll be amazed at the Sahara’s geographic and cultural diversity.
At the empires that rose and fell there.
At its vast network of trade routes that connected the Mediterranean world to sub-Saharan Africa.
And its many stories of exploration and travel.
The Arabist and policy analyst Eamonn Gearon dropped by Personal Landscapes to tell us about all these things, and more.
He’s the author of The Sahara: A Cultural History, and of several courses on Middle Eastern History for The Great Courses (now Wondrium). His work has appeared in The Times Literary Supplement, Geographical, History Today, New Internationalist, Al-Ahram, and other publications.
You can read more about him on his website. And follow him on Twitter and YouTube.
We spoke about desert whales, fossil water, astonishing rock art older than history, and a few of the travelers who explored this vast region and returned to tell the tale.
I hope you enjoy our conversation.
These are the books we mentioned in the podcast:
- The Sahara: A Cultural History
- The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje
- Salt by Mark Kurlansky
- The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu by Joshua Hammer
- The Travels of Ibn Battuta
- The Lost Oases by Hassanein Bey
- The Secret of the Sahara by Rosita Forbes
- Libyan Sands by Ralph Bagnold
- The Impossible Journey by Michael Asher
We also mentioned:
- Prehistoric rock art
- Photo of the fossil fish I saw in Chad
- Rock art panel of people I saw in the Tibesti
- A magazine feature about my trip to Jebel Uweinat from the Sudan side
- Camel handling course in Australia
- The story of Lazlo Almasy’s WWII desert op
- Documentary film about the libraries of Timbuktu
- Ralph Bagnold
- Wilfred Thesiger
- The Brooke Hospital for Animals
- Eamonn’s series’ with The Great Courses