The Immeasurable World by William Atkins

The Immeasurable World

For all the desert's dreamlike beauty, to travel here was not just to pitch yourself into oblivion: it was to grind away at yourself until nothing was left. It was to aspire to the condition of sand. One third of the earth's land surface is desert, much of it desolate and inhospitable. What is it about this harsh environment that has captivated humankind throughout history? From the prophets of the Bible to Marco Polo, Lawrence of Arabia to Gertr...

Details The Immeasurable World

TitleThe Immeasurable World
Release DateJun 7th, 2018
PublisherFaber Faber
GenreNonfiction, Travel, Environment, Nature, History, Cultural, China, Science, Natural History

Reviews The Immeasurable World

  • Antigone
    The heart stumbles.She leaves, and his thoughts drift to the desert. His literary instincts lure him to the books, propel him to the studies, set for him a feast of symbolic attractions. Here are the records of emptiness and exile, isolation and ordeal - arduous days and nights of passage - the history, the art, the science of "the devil's domain." William Atkins reads. And then he packs a bag.The Immeasurable World invites the restless among us ...
  • Paul
    Atkins is the latest one to be drawn to those impenetrable places, deserts. He joins an illustrious list of explorers and people who are seeking something amongst the arid sands. The geographer definition of a desert is somewhere that has less than 250mm of rain per year, but for those that know what to look for, they can be places of riches and places where life is right at the edge, but they are not lifeless if you know where to look. Atkins i...
  • Rose
    This is a book about tbe author's wanderings through the deserts of the world. We learn how each desert looks as well as a bit about the people that live in each. I found this book fascinating and if you think this book would be dry, well, I think you would be surprised at how the author describes the deserts and keeps you wanting to read more. I would like to thank Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with a review copy in exchange for m...
  • Rebecca
    (3.5) Atkins has produced an appealing blend of vivid travel anecdotes, historical background and philosophical musings. He is always conscious that he is treading in the footsteps of earlier adventurers. He has no illusions about being a pioneer here; rather, he eagerly picks up the thematic threads others have spun out of desert experience and runs with them – things like solitude, asceticism, punishment for wrongdoing and environmental degra...
  • Tory
    I almost gave this book 4 stars instead of 5 because I could not 'categorize' it. It combines history, theology, philosophy,politics, science, travelogue, literature, poetry ..... about 8 deserts around the world. Atkins starts the book in the Empty Quarter, Oman, with the Desert Fathers of early Christian monasticsm, then moves on to the Great Victoria Desert, Australia, The Gobi Desert and the Taklamakan Desert, China, and the Aralkum, Kazakhst...
  • Andrea
    Atkins explores four desert areas of the world and in addition to describing the environment, includes brief discussions of the region's human history, environmental importance and other contextual details. I felt rather disatisfied with the brevity of the historical and environmental background. While not really writing a travel adventure tale, Atkins also is not writing a real natural or human history. The desert places seem chosen somewhat at ...
  • Tom
    Atkins travels to deserts around the world, and describes the different contexts they serve. Politically they have been used to separate people (US and China), but have brought them together socially (Burning Man) and religiously (Coptic monasteries). Their remoteness was used to test atomic bombs (US, USSR, Australia), and short sighted economic motivations reduced healthy lands into wastes (Soviet Central Asia). An interesting book wounded at t...
  • Bronwen Griffiths
    I love visiting deserts and love reading about them. William Atkins is a fantastic guide. A mix of the personal - including meetings with local people - plus historical and political context makes this an engrossing read. I was particularly moved by his account of Maralinga, site of the British nuclear tests in the 1950's.
  • Diane
    I won this book in a Goodreads first-reads giveaway.An interesting, eye-opening, thought provoking and immersive book about several of the worlds deserts, how they are different, yet the same.
  • Andrew
    I'm not quite sure what this book was meant to be. I’m not sure it knows either. From the opening parts it looks like a history of the conquering of certain deserts, with the author kind of following in those pioneers footsteps. A bit. But as it goes on it seems to spend less time on the history and more on what is happening in these deserts now. I’m quite surprised, because the most interesting parts were the two segments in the USA, closely...
  • Susan Csoke
    An intriguing story of one mans travels through five continents and eight deserts. Thankyou Goodreads for this free book!!!!
  • Anna Iltnere (Beach Books)
    Book by British writer William Atkins is about seven deserts in five continents, and about desert per se, divine and infernal.“The Immeasurable World” is William Atkins’ second book. His debut, “The Moor” (also available in the library), was about the vast moorlands of Great Britain. Now he travels to Oman, Australia, China, Kazakhstan, United States and Egypt.Author doesn’t visit the desert places on his own, he is accompanied by loc...
  • Linda
    Rather than satisfying me with a book similar to two of my favorites: Desert Solitaire and The Man Who Walked Through Time, which are both about solitary sojourns in desert national parks, British author Atkins challenges by exploring some of the world's great deserts with guides in search of human activity. The deserts he visits, from the Taklamakan in extreme western China to the Black Rock in Nevada, are not quite pristine, and several of them...
  • Steven
    Atkins is an excellent observer and can evoke a sense of place so well. In this book, he travels to several of the worlds deserts, describing the natural features therein, but also delving into a human aspect of the place. He travels to the Empty Quarter on the border of Oman and Saudi Arabia retracing the steps of British explorers, then he's off to Australia's Great Victorian desert to explore it's legacy of nuclear testing. In the Gobi and Tak...
  • Geoffrey
    (Note: I received an advanced electronic copy of this book from NetGalley) When reading the book's summary,oneI admittedly may be a bit off-put by the prospect of reading about a man's wanderings through some of the most barren places on the planet. However, following Atkins as he travels from the empty quarter to the American southwest to the Taklamakan in Central Asia is anything but a slog. Far from it, one will encounter lands that are all qu...
  • Yasmin
    Elfin-looking William Atkins treks across various deserts in search of what? That is the pervading question of this book. It wasn't immediately clear to me why he embarked on the journeys he did, other than finding books about deserts in a monastery library. Monasteries and monks are definitely his cup of tea. The journeys are interesting, the deserts and their histories are fascinating. It's been a long time since I saw shamals referenced anywhe...
  • John
    An unusual travelogue based on the writer's travel through some of earth's most inaccessible places -- deserts. An interesting combination of history, geography, literature, and even some philosophy. In total he visits 8 deserts on 5 continents.
  • Nate
    7/8 of this books were really good. Well written, moved along well in a series of essays set in various desert settings. Not a natural history, but not only a personal journey, a decent read overall.
  • Alaska
    A fascinating book! I enjoyed his stay in Egypt with the monks. Agape. A great word but there is little love around us.
  • David
    When I heard it was similar to Bruce Chatwin, I ordered it right away. Well, it is not. Of the 6 essays, I disliked 2, enjoyed 3 and the last so so. So...3 stars.
  • Peter Franklin
    A strange book, mostly interesting, except the last chapter which I found tedious.
  • Greynomad
  • Sharron
    The content warrants a 4* rating but sadly the prose does not. If only the same material had been written by Paul Theroux or William Langenweische.
  • Anthony
    I'm never going to Burning Man
  • Toby
    What a terrific read - each journey fascinating and illuminating in its own right, excepting the tedium of Burning Man. I would be keen to read Atkins's other books after this, he's such a knowledgeable guide and poses such profound questions about mankind.
  • ⋟Kimari⋞
    You might also enjoy:✱ The Secret Knowledge of Water✱ Soul of Nowhere✱ Red: Passion and Patience in the Desert✱ Arabian Sands✱ News From Tartary✱ Desert Solitaire✱ Desert Notes: Reflections in the Eye of a Raven✱ Crossing Open Ground✱ The Man Who Walked Through Time✱ Where the Water Goes: Life and Death Along the Colorado River✱ Cadillac Desert: The American West and Its Disappearing Water✱ Great Aridness: Climate Change a...