“A STUPENDOUS AND HARROWING JOURNEY.” - The New York Times
“A VIVID, ELECTRIC GLIMPSE OF A RARELY SEEN CULTURE AT ITS RAWEST.” - Men’s Journal
"THIS IS THAT RARE WORK THAT TAKES READERS BEYOND THEIR IMAGINATIONS.” - Publisher's Weekly
From the book jacket:
"Starting a trek worthy of Indiana Jones, Michael Benanav begins his adventure in Timbuktu. His goal was to follow a camel caravan to the desert salt quarries of Taoudenni and back...An engaging account of proudly going native, enduring and prevailing on a rugged road." - Kirkus Reviews
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 humor and startling insight in this compelling narrative.
Benanav joined what is known as the Caravan of White Gold - so called because its cargo 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 to sell at market. He'd been seized by the idea after stumbling across an article about the dying days of the caravan, eager to experience its age-old way of life before it disappeared from the planet forever. "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."
Benanav lived for weeks among the camel drivers as they traveled eighteen hours a day for a thousand miles, through sandstorms and searing heat. Along the way, he learned how to care for and ride camels, became a medic to injured salt miners, encountered an Islamic culture in which men - not women - veil their faces, and grappled with the dilemmas of cultural extinction created by the ever-spreading impact of globalization.
MEN OF SALT is a revelation, introducing an important new voice to the tradition of travel literature.
Includes 16 pages of color photographs. First published in 2006 by Lyons Press.