A cliff-hanging essay on one man's singular mission to be the first man to walk an east to west route solo across the western Sahara Desert. English travel essays have always evinced a special genius for perception, and Edwards' book follows the tradition. We have been assailed by numerous ""challenge"" books, such as The Snow Leopold and A Walk Across America, but few books have detailed the superhuman trials of desert-walking, simply because so few people have done it (or lived to tell about it). Edwards did. Prod what makes his essay such a cliff-hanger is that it took him four years of trying, failing, practicing, and waiting before he succeeded in completing his 600-mile solo walk from Timbuktu in Mall to Oualata in Mauritania. Through his words, we learn of amazing water-producing techniques using sand, plastic, and plenty of sun. We meet many North African characters--many seedy, some endearing. We are initiated into the odd ways of the camel (Edwards' two set a world's known record by each going 20 days without water). But through it all stands out one man's courage--defying 120-degree days, ""aklâ€š""' dunes where one must walk knee-deep in red-hot sand, emaciation and exhaustion. Edwards understates his story but displays the perceptivity of a major talent. Through his descriptions, one can almost feel the parched mouths, weary bones, and crushing heat. He plans to go back for more such punishment, and he has certainly left room--and desire--for a sequel to his adventures in the desert.