Restless, gripped by an overwhelming wish to make a name for himself in a world ever more hemmed in by progress and 'civilization', Thesiger (1910-2003) embarked on his amazing journeys across Saudi Arabia's Empty Quarter to test himself and to show what could still be done. The result was a monument both to his resilience and to the Bedu who guided him and who emerge as the book's real heroes. "Great Journeys" allows readers to travel both around the planet and back through the centuries - but also back into ideas and worlds frightening, ruthless and cruel in different ways from our own. Few reading experiences can begin to match that of engaging with writers who saw astounding things: great civilisations, walls of ice, violent and implacable jungles, deserts and mountains, multitudes of birds and flowers new to science. Reading these books is to see the world afresh, to rediscover a time when many cultures were quite strange to each other, where legends and stories were treated as facts and in which so much was still to be discovered.
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