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Across the Empty Quarter

4.14  ·  Rating details ·  184 ratings  ·  13 reviews
Restless, gripped by an overwhelming wish to make a name for himself in a world ever more hemmed in by progress and 'civilization', Thesiger (1910-2003) embarked on his amazing journeys across Saudi Arabia's Empty Quarter to test himself and to show what could still be done. The result was a monument both to his resilience and to the Bedu who guided him and who emerge as t ...more
Paperback, Penguin Great Journeys, 90 pages
Published 2007 by Penguin Books
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Average rating 4.14  · 
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 ·  184 ratings  ·  13 reviews


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Yolanda
Jul 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Thesiger's description of his own thoughts and his companions' antics, the personalities of the camels, and the forbidding desert, made reading this akin to watching an especially gripping adventure film. I can't agree with the guy who's reviewed this as having flat characters. It's a narrative history of Thesiger's journey into the desert, and as such, is action- and plot- driven. The behaviour of his companions, however, is plausible enough that I never once thought of them as generic or facel ...more
Lazarus P Badpenny Esq
English infidel traipses across Araby equipped with little more than his boy-scout glee. Amid the deprivations of the desert he learns the secret of the ascetic: abstinence makes the heart grow fonder.
Ape
Mar 20, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: middle-east, travel
My 2010 bookcrossing review:

Another excerpt from another book. This one is from the 1940s and is about an Englishman travelling about in the Arabian desert with a group of guides. It's never really made clear why they are doing this, although there are occasional hints to photographs and mapping, so maybe it's something to do with this? And maybe the lack of clarity is because this is just a collection of excerpts from a larger book. Compared to the other ones from this series I have read, this
...more
Sally
Feb 14, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: travel
Travelling across the uncharted sand dunes of Saudi Arabia/ Oman in 1947 in the company of a group of Bedu. Thesiger tells of the camels; the desperate shortages of food and water...and the dastardly Arabs, eager to kill enemy tribes..and infidels. It's certainly a Great Journey...(to me) not one of the most gripping of this series - no fault of the author, but maybe crossing the desert (there and back) becomes a tad monotonous for the reader as you get towards the end.
Pabloneco
Feb 08, 2017 rated it liked it
Meh... Thesiger is not a storyteller.
Chris Wray
This is an extract from a much larger book so is almost entirely without context, and ends very suddenly at the end of a random paragraph. I'm not at all sure why Penguin edited it that way, but it nevertheless contains some memorable passages.

Theisger describes the call of the desert like this, "Far below me a yellow haze hid the desert to the east. Yet it was there that my fancies ranged, planning new journeys, while I wondered at this strange compulsion which drove me back to a life that was
...more
Don
Aug 29, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: travel
Never quite understood the romance of the deesrt, etc - hot, scorching winds, freezng nights, and sand, sand, sand. It's a puzzle the way so many young public school types, working in government departments like the Foreign Office seem to fall for it hook line and sinker though. There's obviously something deep in the psyche of the English ruling class - or at least the genuinely aristocratic ones - which draws them to sado-masochistic tests of endurance in the company of unfathomable men from m ...more
Marwah Hassounah
Jan 18, 2016 rated it it was ok
I bought the book as it was highly recommended by a social media figure . It is an extract from this traveler's journaling. It depicts an earlier era of Saudi Arabia. I found it interesting what this guy put him self through and his fascination with the Arabian desert.
The traveler is British so many times the vocabulary wasn't very familiar to me. Also I felt that there was no climax to the book's story. A suggestion to the publisher would be to add a map of the trip and places that he mentions
...more
Tom Dale
Aug 14, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: travel
An engaging and exciting tale, well told but quite obviously an extract from a larger work (Arabian Sands); it ends on a cliffhanger and refers frequently to people, places and events that have obviously been expanded upon in earlier parts of the original. I only knew Thesiger from his brief, gruff and hilarious appearance at the end of Newby's Walk in the Hundu Kush, where he comes across as a potential hard-man travel-wanker but this short piece shows a more thoughtful and interesting characte ...more
Kyle Hoekstra
Feb 02, 2015 rated it liked it
An interesting and fairly entertaining expedition across the Arabian desert by Wilfred Thesiger - a Christian amidst a Muslim, tribal people. Vivid writing and description but hobbled by the fact that this is an excerpt - the motive and context are occasionally unclear, and it ends abruptly.
Daren
A bit awkward because it is only an excerpt. It mentions things that don't occur in this book, and ends abruptly. Fantastic writing and descriptions, but stick with 'Arabian Sands'.
Ceri Davies
Jun 16, 2015 rated it really liked it
Thesiger's lucid writing style and observant, sympathetic eye made this an enjoyable read. This excerpt left me wanting to read more.
Alastair Humphreys
Dec 02, 2011 rated it really liked it
Sacrilegious perhaps, but this little version suffices over the whapping and dragging Arabian Sands (though I still love that book).
A good Thesiger taster...
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Sir Wilfred Patrick Thesiger, KBE, DSO, MA, DLitt, FRAS, FRSL, FRGS, FBA, was a British explorer and travel writer born in Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia.

Thesiger was educated at Eton College and Magdalen College, Oxford University where he took a third in history. Between 1930 and 1933, Thesiger represented Oxford at boxing and later (1933) became captain of the Oxford boxing team.

In 1930,
...more

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