Books: Just Before the Sands Ran Out THE LIFE OF MY CHOICE

by Wilfred Thesiger; Norton; 459 pages; $25

Wilfred Thesiger was born in June 1910 in a mud building in Addis Ababa. His father was the British Minister to Abyssinia (now Ethiopia), and his mother, an Irish beauty, seems to have had a knack for prophetic understatement. "My mother," says Thesiger early in this autobiography, "always maintained that the first words I said were 'Go yay,' which meant 'Go away.' "

Which is what Thesiger has been saying and doing in a big way for more than half a century. His adventures as an explorer and soldier in the legendary tradition of Sir Richard Burton and T.E. Lawrence are...

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