I surprised myself by not enjoying this as much as I expected to. I'm not sure if I wanted to hear the author romanticize the Sahara or not, but even though he constantly reminded us NOT to romanticize the desert, I thought he did it all through the book.
The language of the book is very spare, perhaps an attempt to reflect the atmosphere of the desert itself. I found this distracting, and almost stopped reading, but luckily I found the chapter on the Tuaregs.
This chapter made the book worth reading, for me. It was a surprisingly nuanced discussion of how the Tuaregs (nomadic desert dwellers) were more or less brought into being by the French, then drew their identity from their opposition to the French, and are now left stranded in a country that is no longer run by the French.
It's a complex story, full of sad stories of inhumanity. This chapter's balanced and complex look at the Tuaregs did more to de-romanticize the Sahara than all the rest of the author's pseudo-anthropological musings.
In the end, it was a good book. Recommended if you like history, African history, anthropology, or nature writing.