An excursion into the deserts of the world, or one-fifth of its dry land, takes up both the particular conditions that created them and the ways of life peculiar to them. Slater Brown draws from the resources of others' first hand experience --here Lady Blount, Lord Curzon, T. E. Lawrence, Thisiger, Palgrave, Doughty, Bent speak out, on the nature of the Empty Quarter, on camels, on the Tuaregs -- and Jerome gives his view of that first Desert Father, St. Anthony. The extremes of life--the Libyan Desert at Azizia had a record temperature of 183 degrees at noonday, yet 95 people were lost to cold or blizzard in 1949--appeal to saint and explorer alike. How the people of the desert have survived, with various methods of irrigation and the ""ship of the desert"", the much maligned camel, as their primary domesticated animal; what industry has been drawn from the land -- the dying salt trade and the arriving oil enterprise-are considered. The Sahara, ""the king of all earthly deserts"", receives closest attention; the Asian deserts, Arabia Deserta, the Atacana in South America (one of the two absolute deserts), the Great Sandy, the Great Victoria and the Gibson of Australia, and the Great American Desert (the question of whether it exists or not periodically pops up) are also given a cursory inspection. A competent survey, an interesting assortment of facts, but not a book to stand with the experts in the field.