Jacket Image

Enlarge Image

210 × 148 × 18 mm
248 pages
117 illustrations, 110 in colour
01 Nov 2013
  • £14.95

  • This edition is currently unavailable

Desert Nature and Culture Roslynn D. Haynes

Desert takes a fresh look at one of the most significant natural aspects of our planet as both a geographical feature and a cultural entity. It examines and often overturns our common notions about deserts, from the fear of desolation and death of thirst on the one hand, to the attraction of the exotic, adventure and freedom on the other.

There is an immense geographical diversity of deserts from the Sahara to Antarctica, and plants and animals have adapted to these hostile environments in intriguing and often bizarre ways. Diverse races have also inhabited deserts and evolved unique lifestyles and cultures in response to their environments. The book also asks why all three of the world’s great monotheistic religions, Judaism, Christianity and Islam, originated in the deserts of the Middle East, and traces the continuing connections between the minimal materialism of desert existence and the pursuit of a spiritual dimension.

Deserts have also long exerted an allure on the West, leading to the impetus for exploration, the fascination with travellers’ tales and the fashion for Orientalism in art, architecture and dress. Desert also reviews the significance of desolate landscapes in literature and film and looks at artists’ responses to the desert, from seeing it as empty space, devoid of interest or perspective, to devising new visual techniques through which to ‘see’ it.

‘This beautifully illustrated volume reminds us of the natural and cultural riches of those parts of the world with 250mm of annual precipitation or less.’ — The Independent

‘The word desert evokes a place of wearying nothingness, devoid of life, culture or fertility. But, as Roslynne D. Haynes shows in this beautifully written and sumptuously illustrated new book, the reality is very different . . . Haynes surveys the astonishing adaptations made by plants and animals for desert life. Everywhere there is cause for wonder.’ — Geographical Magazine

‘By weaving together science and culture, Haynes . . . utilizes her lifelong passion for synthesizing numerous disciplines to skilfully present the compelling topic of deserts . . . lively and engaging, [deserts are presented] through a thoroughly academic lens without losing accessibility. Desert serves as an interesting introduction to the multilayered influence of these geographical landscapes. A truly enjoyable read. Highly recommended.’ — Choice

Show all

Roslynn D. Haynes is an Honorary Associate Professor in the School of Arts and Media at the University of New South Wales and a Visiting Fellow in the School of Humanities, University of Tasmania, Australia.

The Diversity of Deserts
An Armoury of Adaptations
Desert Cultures Past and Present
Museums of Our Ancestors
Desert Religions
Travellers and Explorers
Deserts of the Imagination
Deserts in Western Art
Exploitation and Opportunity

The World’s Major Deserts
Select Bibliography
Associations and Websites
Photo Acknowledgements