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3.94  ·  Rating Details ·  1,968 Ratings  ·  70 Reviews
Michael Palin recounts his extraordinary crossing of the vast and merciless desert.

Michael Palin is off again, this time to the seemingly desolate Sahara Desert. There’s no easy way across, as he and his team discover on their most challenging expedition yet.

From a starting point in Gibraltar, Michael makes his way to Morocco, then over to the Atlas Mountains to the little
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Published October 7th 2002 by BBC Physical Audio (first published 2002)
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Community Reviews

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Jan 30, 2017 Abhi rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not for the first time during the reading of a book was I left feeling that a writer was becoming gradually disenchanted with his initial purpose, grand and promising to be full of adventure. It was plain enough that it was a tough ordeal for Palin. In the end, it just felt like he was glad that it was over.

The reason for the 3 stars then, apart from the fact that he writes pretty decently, dotted with the occasional wit, is that this book was like an inlet into, like MP and his childhood fantas
Apr 07, 2010 PDXReader rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found Sahara to be just a little disappointing around the edges. As always, I learned a tremendous amount about the countries through which Palin traveled and I enjoyed his wit. There was something missing in this one, though. It's as if Palin wasn't having a good time. I'm not sure if the conditions were more difficult than he anticipated or if he was overwhelmed by the poverty of those he met, but overall the book lacked the joie de vivre evident in his other travelogues. It's not bad by any ...more
Sep 10, 2016 Mitch rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: travel
This book was pretty well done, considering the subject material, purpose and route chosen. I found it interesting even though i am not seduced by the mystery of that ocean of desert, nor am I a huge Michael Palin/Life of Brian fan. If I had been, I probably would have given the book five stars.

The Sahara sounds like a forbidding place, unwelcoming and full of hardships. It also seems to have shaped the cultures that live within its embrace; they have come to terms with living there- but after r
Aug 04, 2009 Christy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: travel
I have this idea that I want to go to Tunisia. It has a lot to do with Carthage and my fantasies about recapturing the past, a place in which my mind always seems to dwell. This book isn’t the ultimate travel guide by any means, but it combines my interest in traveling through northern Africa and my undying love of Michael Palin. If only he would be there to do that spectacular hoppity dance he did as the cured leper in Life of Brian, I’d be on a plane right now.
Chris Scott
Aug 20, 2014 Chris Scott rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sahara
Like ‘Everest’ and ‘Yukon’, the word ‘Sahara’ is a good selling tool for Jeeps, hotels, boots, you name it. Palin’s book carries the name but, as anyone who saw the BBC series will agree, he spent little time in the desert, failed to get under its skin and instead concentrated on the less arduous and more social and photogenic aspects of West and North Africa. Fair enough, the product is MP not where he happens to be or who he’s talking to (the book, not much deeper than the TV series, is packed ...more
Sam Still Reading
Jul 24, 2010 Sam Still Reading rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: armchair travellers
Recommended to Sam Still Reading by: read other books by the same author
You probably would have guessed by now that I really enjoy reading Michael Palin’s travel books. That would be correct, I find them a delightful way to reminisce after watching the accompanying TV series as they give a lot more insight and background.

Did you know that Sahara was filmed in two parts? Or that 9/11 occurred while they were in the middle of the Sahara and didn’t see any footage for days? How many times did the crew get food poisoning?

You’ll find all this and more in Palin’s meticulo
Jul 01, 2013 Rachel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013, s, male-author
Bearing in mind what has happened in the countries mentioned in this book over the past 10 years some of the aspects are a little outdated - the ease of access to gas producing plants, the joking about being kidnapped and Gadaffi.

However, there were some excellent anecdotes and I found myself smiling throughout - the englishman who lived with a cockeral that diliked women for example. The need for armed guards in Algeria, and the constant cowering when large groups of people walked past maybe sh
Dec 11, 2013 Nichola rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: africa
Michael Palin is of course very funny (Monty Python), but many don't realize he is also a thoughtful adventurer who took on an Around the World in 80 days challenge and has followed it up with many other journeys. This is a travel journal of his televised trip across Africa in 2001.
Generally I would say it made me want to get the DVD, as lots of the relationships and movement is lost on paper. But he does show a different side of the trip here, as he talks frankly about some reactions he had to
Nov 17, 2013 Jim rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, travel
I much enjoy Michael Palin's travel books and television shows. I enjoy the humor and the novel "themes" employed, that often pass through wonderful places most travelers never get to. Of course, no matter how strange or potentially dangerous the locale he visits, he must have a small entourage with him to do the filming and support. I think Palin tries to maintain a measure of distance from his staff, but in the back of my mind I truly wonder how it affects the honesty of the tale (perhaps none ...more
I really like everything Michael Palin did and/or wrote, but as this book is the only one I didn't see the documentary on TV, I thought at first it won't be that interesting as previous travel memoirs.
The title didn't appeal to me much, as I do not think there's much to say about Sahara... about any kind of desert. But this book actually isn't about desert - it is about people and countries doomed to habitate one of the cruelest environments in the world. And I was more than pleasantly surprised
Ann Taylor
May 28, 2008 Ann Taylor rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: travel buffs who can recite the dead parrot skit from memory
Insist on reading the hard-cover version of all his books. The photography is spectacular. We've fallen in love with Michael (yes, the Monty Python Michael Palin) Palin's travel books. We're half-way through reading his "Himalaya" and have his DVD, "Pole To Pole" in our DVD player.

He writes with a self-effacing good humor, always willing to be the butt of the joke as he journeys along in his dapper Oxford and khakis and comfortable walking shoes.
Go here for more:
Jan 18, 2016 SpaceBear rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: africa, humour, travel
Palin`s travelogues are definitely entertaining as light reads, but I can not help but feel they grow less exciting as Palin travels more and ages. Its not that the idea of a long trek across the Sahara is not a fundamentally interesting subject, its just that Palin's light humour and wonder at the world seems to fade slightly. To be fair though, even the most optimistic of travellers will find it difficult to love the great desert, and this story does not hold the 'race-against-the-clock' theme ...more
Apr 25, 2012 Susanne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: travelling
Michael Palin can't help to travel and so he does - through the Sahara this time. The book following it is typical Palin: a warm account of his travels, with little anecdotes about the baser aspects and observations of the changing world of the desert.

I loved the book, but while reading I found myself a little uneasy with the - if you want to call it that - lack of political realities (Lybia f.e.). I guess, it is not the aim of this book to be political, but the 'innocence' with which Palin reco
May 25, 2013 Melody rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Michael Palin writes with humour, honesty, and with great attention to detail. I really enjoyed how he described the history of each location as he passed through it, but did not focus too much on the history, which would have made it a bit dry. There was a nice balance between his description of his own experiences as a traveller, the history of the places he was visiting, and the lives of the people he met. I felt like I was very much in his shoes, travelling with him. It's a great book for ki ...more
Kevin Godin
I generally love travel books and Palin has a good eye for taking a reader on trips with him. This book (so far) is a bit of a tough read. The adventures are engaging enough, but it all feels 'flat' somehow - like, perhaps, Palin was not always enjoying the ride. Pain's writing is warm with a familiar wit, and this really saves the book for me. While Sahara was not a knockout for me, I think I need to see the TV series now!
Jul 04, 2011 Jrobertus rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a fine travel book. Palin gives you a sense of place, including some history, physical description and interaction with the locals. He wrote this tp accomplany a film he shot as he traveled around and through the Sahara. He begins at Gibralter and ends there, but hits about everything in between. I found myself online checking out more details about many of the fascinating places he stops at. A fun read all together.
Jan 16, 2009 Allie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Michael Palin's tour of the Sahara was a major one. Covering eight Saharan countries, as well as the disputed Western Sahara, Palin roasted in 140 degree weather, rode as part of a camel train, ate camel livers and lived to tell the tale, and was run over by the Paris-Dakar rally. Humorously told and interspersed with photographs by the brilliant Basil Pao; Palin's Sahara journey is always lively, with new sights, smells, tastes, and adventures around the next sand dune.
Palin, as always, is a witty raconteur and general all-round affable fellow, and it is always nice to join him on his travels. For me, however, this travelogue of the Sahara and the various countries was somewhat too superficial, and lacking in enough historical references. Other than The Timbuktu part, I felt like I wanted to know more about the culture, history and background of these places. As a somewhat superficial guide, YMMV.
Les Dangerfield
Aug 02, 2015 Les Dangerfield rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A good if fairly superficial insight into the Francophone countries of the Sahara region. As it is based on the TV series, it probably doesn't suit the book form so much, hence the superficiality. However, Michael Palin's humour, humanity and humility shine through and make it a generally enjoyable read - the four star rating is perhaps a tad generous. As the book was written in 2001, I found myself checking Wikipedia quite often for updates on the places and events he describes in the book.
Oct 30, 2013 Lisa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a great "read." I am actually almost finished listening to it on audio book--and I recommend it this way as it is a delight to hear him speak and do the voices, each unique.
Palin and his crew travel the Sahara to film his show. Partway through the trip they hear about the attacks on 9/11. As a result the book is not merely a travelogue, it is also a stark reminder on how things changed on that day. And how they didn't.
I can't wait to read his other works.
Sep 30, 2016 Janean rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book accomplished something I never expected: It made me want to visit Africa. Well, at least Morocco. I realize now that Morocco, or at least, Tangier, actually has a decent climate (only up to 90 in the summer) and with the former French colonization, the architecture is pretty awesome. And the culture is super laid back. AND the cost of living is about 1/4 of SLC so.... early retirement potential!
Carol Wakefield
May 08, 2013 Carol Wakefield rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A delightful travel book by a very enthusiastic traveler. He even complains only minimally about some late night runs into the desert with a trowel, paper and matches following unfortunately upsetting camel stew. Palin is so very open to each new experience and appreciative of his opportunities that he easily carries along the reader. And from the security of my air conditioned home I can find his travels in 133 degree temps almost enticing. Well--almost. . On to palins next adventure.
Vikas Datta
Nov 28, 2014 Vikas Datta rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Another gem from Mr Palin - an engaging account of traipsing around the large desert across over half a dozen countries of north and northwestern Africa with apparently flippant observations offering a wealth of insightful information on matters political, social, anthropological, economic and environmental. A dashing good read
Eva Whiteley
I fell in love with the Sahara desert back in 2012 when I spent a week horse riding on its dunes in the Nile Valley. My comfortable jaunt was dwarfed by the adventure captured in Sahara. I expect I will never see the places described and documented, and for that reason this read provided a wonderful virtual travel experience into this region.
For me, Palin’s style of writing is a delight.
Martin Mulcahey
It really pains me not to give a Palin travelogue 5 stars, I just find this to be the weakest of an otherwise excellent lot. So the rating is more because Sahara suffers by comparison, buy the others first and save this one for last. Perhaps because in this travel Palin is a bit more confined in the range of personalities and cultures he meets? Still good stuff, but not great.
Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance
Nov 10, 2012 Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: travel
My first book by this wonderful travel author. How has he eluded me for so long? Michael Palin is that perfect mix of an excellent observer of all that is discordant and wise and genuine combined with a fearless desire to visit places others fear to trod. Happy to have discovered this new-to-me author.
My dad's just been to Tunisia so this is why I read this book and so glad I did. I'm lucky enough to have the whole set of these photo illustrated editions - and I will be (re)reading them all! As usual, wittily written and full of 'wow' and 'well, I didn't know that' moments. Can't believe dad didn't go to where 'Life of Brian' was filmed - but he did ride a camel...
Apr 01, 2010 Mandy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
An interesting book. I had seen some of the episodes of the TV series some time ago. I do feel that I preferred the film to the book. Michael Palin's reactions to some of the peope he meets is quite fascinating. However, I really wish more had been said about how the people explained their own country to Michael Palin.
Jan 22, 2008 angrykitty rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: travel, its-tv
obviously i have read all of the plain travel books. this one, like himalaya had less writing and more pics, and for some that might be a plus, but to me that was a negative. overall though, still good.
James Henderson
Jun 18, 2015 James Henderson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Michael Palin is an extraordinary traveler who can see things most people completely miss and find those characters that make his journey so unique. Reading his books is the next best thing to being with him as he travels the world.
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Michael Edward Palin, CBE, is an English comedian, actor, writer and television presenter best known for being one of the members of the comedy group Monty Python and for his travel documentaries.

Palin wrote most of his material with Terry Jones. Before Monty Python, they had worked on other shows such as The Ken Dodd Show, The Frost Report and Do Not Adjust Your Set. Palin appeared in some of the
More about Michael Palin...

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