Next to rain forests, deserts are the most biologically diverse ecosystems on Earth. In fact, a desert is never a single ecosystem but a concentration of dozens, ranging from arid flatlands to high mesas to canyons, and oases. Filled with unexpected life and unforgiving conditions, the desert evokes a vivid and passionate response from those who experience it and has inspired powerful literature. The writings in this collection celebrate this complex environment in all its wondrous guises. Among them, 19th-century explorer Sven Hedin staggers through a deadly sandstorm in the Taklamatan desert, whose name means "You enter and do not return." Ann Zwinger contemplates golden asters and rabbitbush in a lonely Utah canyon. Ariel Dorfman encounters time and memory in El Norte Grande. This fascinating anthology is the first in a series from Greystone Books celebrating a single natural or geographic phenomenon through the eyes of major world writers past and present.