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Deserts: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions #215)

3.59  ·  Rating Details ·  22 Ratings  ·  7 Reviews
Deserts make up a third of the planet's land surface, but if you picture a desert, what comes to mind? A sandy wasteland? A drought-parched dust bowl? An alien landscape devoid of all life forms? In this marvelous Very Short Introduction, geographer and popular science writer Nick Middleton reveals that deserts are places of immense natural charm and rich biodiversity. ...more
Paperback, 135 pages
Published December 1st 2009 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published 2009)
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Bojan Tunguz
Oct 22, 2011 Bojan Tunguz rated it really liked it
The first thing that comes to one's mind when thinking about deserts are the vast expenses of sandy dunes, with an occasional palm-tree oasis and a few hardy souls on camel backs traversing them. This romantic image has more than a grain of truth to it, but deserts are in fact very diverse geographical areas. This very short introduction aims to explore deserts and explain what makes them so unique and fascinating. Despite what one may think, deserts as geographical locations are not that easy ...more
Sep 02, 2010 Intikhab rated it liked it
Nick Middleton has masterly covered the great varieties within deserts, their climates, landscapes, wildlife, and human use. The book covers in sufficient details of various types of deserts, which are climatically subdivided into deserts with cold winters, coastal deserts, and hot deserts. I found it an interesting read. It tracks mankind's spiritual links with deserts as the world's all the three great religions - Judaism, Christianity, and Islam - have had their origins in desert. The book ...more
Mahendranath Ramakrishnan
Jul 29, 2015 Mahendranath Ramakrishnan rated it really liked it
Very good book. The author Nick Middleton manages to get across his idea to the reader that contrary to popular cultural depictions of a desert as a bleak, desolate and unforgiving landscape, a desert is a very unique ecosystem with organisms that have armed themselves with fantastic adaptions to thrive in such harsh climates. More importantly, Nick writes that deserts have played a great role in human evolution and the dawn of civilization. Some of the world's oldest and grandest civilizations ...more
Aug 24, 2016 Usfromdk rated it liked it
Closer to two stars than four; some parts of the publication were a bit too pop-science-y for my taste and some of the content covering human geography aspects in particular I considered to be somewhat weak. I definitely take issue with the author's decision not to cover polar regions (Antarctica in particular) in a book like this, but I did not subtract any stars because of this decision. Given the page-count devoted to the topic, I think the author spends too much time telling us what specific ...more
Nazmul Hasan
Apr 27, 2015 Nazmul Hasan rated it liked it
Middleton is through in this exposition. He is careful to present factual information in an interesting way, and the book never seems to be bogged down by sheer facts that the reader would otherwise be annoyed by. Middleton's coverage goes beyond the desert as a place with a lot of sand. He discusses what deserts mean to people, possible theories of how deserts formed, select animals and plants which show a fascinating tendency to adapt, and other, page turning nuggets of information about the ...more
May 10, 2012 Darlene rated it really liked it
Oxford's Very Short Introduction series is wonderful. Written by experts in the field, these little books pack a lot into few pages. The authors of the ones I've read, including Deserts, express a passion for their subject and inspire critical thinking unlike most introductory materials.
Nov 17, 2011 Darren rated it really liked it
I read it on the bus. If it was much longer, I probably wouldn't have read it. Now I know more about deserts.
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Nick Middleton is a British physical geographer and supernumerary fellow of St Anne's College, Oxford. He specialises in desertification.

Nick Middleton was born in London, England. As a geographer, he has travelled to more than 50 countries. Going to Extremes is a television programme for Channel 4 about extreme lifestyles, in which Middleton experiences life in the hostile conditions other cultur
More about Nick Middleton...

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