An engaging account of proudly going native, enduring and prevailing on a rugged road.

Travel writer and wilderness instructor Benanav crosses a thousand miles of desert.

It was sandy. And hot. And not an easy trip, either, traveling by dromedary through the Sahara. Starting a trek worthy of Indiana Jones, or perhaps the late Lowell Thomas, the author begins his adventure in Mali’s major metropolis, Timbuktu. His goal was to follow a camel caravan to the desert salt quarries of Taoudenni and back to Timbuktu before trucks took the place of these legendary ships of the desert. (He didn’t realize then that camels, more efficient in this trade than vehicles, are not likely to be replaced soon.) With his wise and faithful guide Walid, Benanav set out to find a caravan at Araouane, an outpost so remote that even Coca-Cola hasn’t found it. They pursued and missed connections, got lost and ate goat offal roasted over camel dung. Our roving tenderfoot walked miles in nomad sandals, recovered from saddle sores and rode miles more mounted on Lachmar, a faithful camel. He yearned to be, at least for a while, an azali, an inhabitant of the desert. The romance was enhanced by fellow travelers in full costume: for example, “a gray djellaba over a blue boubou, cinched around the waist with a rope into which was tucked a long sheathed knife.” The trek back in the company of salt-laden convoys was sleepless and miserable, evoking thoughts of death. But readers can rest assured that Benanav’s ordeal was worth the travail. In closing, the author waxes philosophical about East and West and humanity. The camels were okay, too.

An engaging account of proudly going native, enduring and prevailing on a rugged road.

Pub Date: Jan. 15, 2006

ISBN: 1-59228-772-7

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Lyons Press

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2005



This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996




An extravaganza in Bemelmans' inimitable vein, but written almost dead pan, with sly, amusing, sometimes biting undertones, breaking through. For Bemelmans was "the man who came to cocktails". And his hostess was Lady Mendl (Elsie de Wolfe), arbiter of American decorating taste over a generation. Lady Mendl was an incredible person,- self-made in proper American tradition on the one hand, for she had been haunted by the poverty of her childhood, and the years of struggle up from its ugliness,- until she became synonymous with the exotic, exquisite, worshipper at beauty's whrine. Bemelmans draws a portrait in extremes, through apt descriptions, through hilarious anecdote, through surprisingly sympathetic and understanding bits of appreciation. The scene shifts from Hollywood to the home she loved the best in Versailles. One meets in passing a vast roster of famous figures of the international and artistic set. And always one feels Bemelmans, slightly offstage, observing, recording, commenting, illustrated.

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 1955

ISBN: 0670717797

Page Count: -

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1955

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