This is the sort of book that can be held up as a model for juvenile non-fiction. While the title may indicate a subject area which might not be high on anyone's list of first purchase needs, anyone can justify its selection on the grounds that a well written book is its own best excuse. Actually, a better case than that can be made for the subject -- there is a dearth of hard cover material on aspects of geography outside the textbook field. Mr. Pond is an anthropologist and has one of the world's rarer specialties. He is an expert on deserts and has been to most of them, starting with the first modern expedition -- that of Ray Chapman Andrews to the Gobi in the '20's. His writing style approximates relaxed conversation, his personal experiences in desert living and travel are informative and amusing, and he communicates a sense of wonder about deserts --about how little is still known about them. He discusses the erroneous ideas about fantastically hot temperatures, the psychological effects of desert life on civilized visitors and generalizes about the various traits common to desert societies. The camel gets a thorough description with myths exploded and the latest facts set forth. The section on desert flora and fauna is particularly outstanding. No mirage here -- good teaching and good writing.