In 1973, Geoffrey Moorhouse decided to cross the great Sahara desert alone, by camel. Not merely as one of those because-it-was-there-challenges or indurating ordeals of courage, but partly ""to explore an extremity of human experience"" and even more to overcome that ""fearful void"" -- the fear which exists in all of us whether of loss or annihilation. The first phase to Tombouctou took ten disemboweling and exhausting weeks through a wilderness of sand with not only its glaring heat but gelid cold; lice and grit everywhere; basic rations of wheat and rice and fat (and worse) and unpotable water -- dung floating on a well. After a six day stopover in Tombouctou he proceeded to the next stop with the old, incontinent Mohammed; on the last stage of the attempted crossing, he not only gets lost but runs out of water. Throughout, the attempt (which to some degree triumphs over that void) is strengthened by a recently acquired religion -- God is the point of reference -- by images in the mind's eye or memories of the past which distract him from the foot-and-saddle sore prostration. . . . There is always an audience for that singular test of courage and in any case this stunning, stirring account ascends beyond physical endurance to those higher possibilities which sustain and justify and redeem.