In 1850, James Richardson and two German scientists, Dr. Heinrich Barth and Dr. Adolf Overweg, organized an African expedition, and became the first Europeans to survive a journey across the Sahara. For the first third of the book, the author carefully controls the plot and mood; the plot moves along dramatically, and the parched desert seems eery and grotesque. Seufert deftly describes the fragile relationships of the men who become temperamental and confused in the face of the nothingness which stretches before them. As the scientists encounter bands of ruthless nomads and other obstacles, the plot becomes complicated, and unfortunately the author begins to grope around in what has become a dry sandy maze of nomads, camels, and wandering scientists. One wishes that Seufert had condensed the last two-thirds of this chronicle, and in so doing, possible concluded his work with the same mastery with which he began.