Monday, July 17, 2006

Book Review - Men of Salt

Men of Salt: Crossing the Sahara on the Caravan of White Gold by Michael Benanav

The cover caught my eye in the library and was the reason behind why I read this. Benanav had read that trucks were going to replace the camel caravans that transport huge salt slabs across the Sahara and decided he wanted to travel on one before the caravans became extinct. His journey is through the brutal Tanezrouft region of the Sahara; an area four times the size of England and one known as "The Land of Thirst" and "The Land of Terror." Benanav describes the many traditions and lifestyle of the azalai (camel herders) and details the difficulties of salt mining. With a geography of nothing but sand dunes it is impressive that the azalai can remember where each well is located and where to find diverging paths.

This is a great, relaxing adventure about a lifestyle that has survived the last 1,000 years and Benanav describes everything extremely well. One of the aspects I appreciated most was that he is NOT an academic, mearly someone who read about the salt caravans and wanted to travel on one, and very much a simple man.

Kim's Grade: B+ Short, sweet, and adventurous.

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