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Jeff Fearnside

Ships In The Desert (SFWP Literary Awards)

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"Informative, impassioned, and urgent... Ships in the Desert is a clarion call to protect and treasure the 'grain of gold' in 'every drop of water,' to honor our collective humanity, and to acknowledge the grievous losses and courageous hopes that bind us."—Kim Barnes, Pulitzer Prize Finalist, author of In the Wilderness: Coming of Age in Unknown Country
In this linked essay collection, award-winning author Jeff Fearnside analyzes his four years as an educator on the Great Silk Road, primarily in Kazakhstan. Peeling back the layers of culture, environment, and history that define the country and its people, Fearnside creates a compelling narrative about this faraway land and soon realizes how the local, personal stories are, in fact, global stories. Fearnside sees firsthand the unnatural disaster of the Aral Sea—a man-made environmental crisis that has devastated the region and impacts the entire world. He examines the sometimes controversial ethics of Western missionaries, and reflects on personal and social change once he returns to the States.
Ships in the Desert explores universal issues of religious bigotry, cultural intolerance, environmental degradation, and how a battle over water rights led to a catastrophe that is now being repeated around the world.
"Part memoir, part travelogue, part manifesto, Jeff Fearnside's Ships in the Desert unfolds in a series of vivid vignettes that bring the culture and history of Central Asia to life.... I learned a lot from this engaging and valuable book."—Scott Slovic, University Distinguished Professor of Environmental Humanities, University of Idaho
"In rich, searching essays... [Fearnside] shows us that we have much to learn from the realities of a country most Americans can't find on a map, revealing how we are connected, and all responsible for living with integrity."—Michael Copperman, author of Teacher: Two Years in the Mississippi Delta
"An intimate and effortlessly wide-ranging account of one of the gravest—and saddest—anthropogenic disasters in the world. Jeff Fearnside is a writer of genuine decency, and this is a very admirable book."—Tom Bissell, author of Chasing the Sea and Apostle

If you enjoyed 
Four Seasons in Rome by Anthony Doerr, To the Lake: A Balkan Journey of War and Peace by Kapka Kassabova, and World of Wonders: In Praise of Fireflies, Whale Sharks, and Other Astonishments by Aimee Nezhukumatathil, then you won't want to miss Ships in the Desert.