Libyan Sands

By Ralph A. Bagnold,

Book cover of Libyan Sands: Travel in a Dead World

Book description

"Libyan Sands" is unmistakably the work of an Englishman, a modest, machine- and desert-loving young officer whose passionate amateur enthusiasm led to the exploration of the Egyptian western desert and the Libyan Sahara on the eve of the second world war.

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Why read it?

2 authors picked Libyan Sands as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

Libyan Sands tells the story of Ralph Bagnold’s extraordinary expeditions into the North African deserts between the two world wars. Remarkably for the time, Bagnold chose to use not camels, as his predecessors had done, but specially-adapted Ford Model-A motorcars, in which he covered tens of thousands of miles in extraordinarily inhospitable, waterless conditions, travelling where no motor vehicle and hardly any people had ever been before. The knowledge he accrued would lead him, ultimately, to found and lead the Long Range Desert Group in the Second World War. 

Having written about extraordinary journeys into the polar wastes, and having…

A unique work, Libyan Sands is the first book to describe the thrills and pitfalls of exploring the Sahara by car: it also inspired me to explore the desert, albeit with camels, not cars. Bagnold writes with verve and passion about his pioneering journeys, in the 1920s and 1930s, driving with colleagues across hundreds of miles of uncharted desert, in tiny Ford Model-T cars, the first people to do so. As he writes, “The fact is we were a little afraid of the desert.” With good reason! During WWII he formed the Long Range Desert Group, which carried out missions…

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