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Wilfred Thesiger was an explorer and writer who sought to travel through the Rub’ al Khali, the so-called “Empty Quarter” of desert in the Arabian Peninsula in the late 1940s. Thesiger wrote about his journey in his now-classic travel book Arabian Sands, which was originally published in 1959 brought him distinction as an explorer and writer. Thesiger passed in 2003.
Joining me today to talk about Arabian Sands is the author and scholar Tim Hannigan. We discuss Thesiger’s book in light of his life and his complications as a travel writer with privileged, colonial roots. Archives now keep his photographs, but many are freely visible online (including photos of his companions like bin Kabina). He published some of his photographs in his books, including his wonderful photography book A Vanished World.
This episode was prepared alongside a review of Arabian Sands.
This episode is also the first in a new series in which I speak with authors and journalists about their favorite travel books or travel books they’ve been meaning to read.
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