Books: Shiftless Sands

ARABIA FELIX — Bertram Thomas — Scribner ($5). Last large geographical blind spot in world cartographers' eyes was the great desert Rub' al Khali, "empty quarter" of Arabia. After skirting its southern fringe for more than two months, on Jan. 10, 1931, Explorer Thomas and 13 Arabs made tracks across; on Feb. 4 they emerged at Doha, on the Persian Gulf. The journey emptied geography of ignorance, emptied also any hopes of discovering a better world on Planet Earth. The cartographical blind spot had been filled in with 600 miles of burning sand....

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