Published: June 2018
'In sublime prose that veers from startling human and natural history to dreamlike personal experience, The Immeasurable World brings apparently barren places to life in a brilliant, revelatory narrative. The author becomes a kind of sensor in the wilderness, electrically gathering together these stories. The result is is a book in which to get lost and find another world: not an arid, blank waste, but a richer, more extraordinary place than we ever suspected.' - Philip Hoare, author of the Samuel Johnson Prize-winning Leviathan
One third of the globe's land surface is desert, and much of it parched, treacherous, and inhospitable. The hostile climate, lunar topography, and sheer existential blankness of these zones have confounded explorers over the centuries. For indigenous and nomadic people, conversely, these hostile and forbidding places are home, and the vistas that fill Western travellers with dread bring more comfort than fear.
In The Immeasurable World, over the course of eight journeys to deserts iconic and obscure, Atkins enters a landscape that he discovers is as much internal as physical. From the monasteries of Egypt - where he enters into the extreme privations of the Desert Father - to America's Black Rock Desert, and via Oman, Australia, and Central Asia, he investigates the fascinating life, history, and iconography of these untamed places. The result is a book destined to take its place alongside the most memorable works of travel literature.