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In fact, there was no road at all, just an endless stretch of desert sand called "The Land of Terror" by the nomads who cross it, and described by author Michael Benanav with startling insight in this compelling narrative. Benanav joined what is known as the Caravan of White Gold - so-called because the salt was once literally worth its weight in gold - on its mission into the deadly heart of the Sahara to haul back gleaming slabs of solid salt for sale at market. He'd been seized by the idea after coming across an article about the dying days of the caravan: "It was that feeling known by those of us who don't so much take journeys as are taken by journeys: hearing the call of a particular place for a particular purpose that will not be denied. It was the kind of trip I was born to take."
Following his amused guide, Walid, Benanav lived for weeks among the camel drivers as they traveled eighteen hours a day for nearly a thousand miles without a map or landmark in sight, through sandstorms and searing heat. Along the way, he learned how to care for and ride camels, became a medic to injured salt miners, and grappled with the dilemmas of cultural extinction created by the ever-widening impact of globalization.
Men of Salt is a revelation, introducing an important new voice to the tradition of travel literature.
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