Deserts make up a third of the planet's land surface, but if you picture a desert, what comes to mind? A sandy wasteland? A drought-parched dust bowl? An alien landscape devoid of all life forms? In this marvelous Very Short Introduction, geographer and popular science writer Nick Middleton reveals that deserts are places of immense natural charm and rich biodiversity. Typified by drought and extremes of temperature, they can be harsh and hostile, but Middleton shows that many deserts are also spectacularly beautiful, and on occasion they can teem with life. The author highlights how each desert is unique, describing their frequently fantastic life forms, extraordinary scenery, and long history of ingenious human habitation. Written by a respected scientist who enjoys a wide following for his Going to Extremes television series on National Geographic, Deserts tells you everything you ever wanted to know about these extraordinary places and captures their importance in the working of our planet.