László Almásy: "The Unknown Sahara"
I have recently completed the english translation of "The Unknown sahara" and "In Air...On Sand",
and the corrected transcript of the Operation Salaam diary.
Click on CD cover below for ordering information
Almásy wrote three books about his travels and explorations in North Africa. All appeared in The Library of the Hungarian Geographical Society series, edited by Jeno Cholnoky. (The series reproduced in Hungarian many important foreign books on exploration and travel, alongside the works of Hungarian travelers & explorers).
(With Motorcar to the Sudan)
|Az ismeretlen Szahara
(The Unknown Sahara)
(In Air...on Sand)
The first book, "With Motorcar to the Sudan" described a motorcar trip (the first with an ordinary automobile) from Alexandria to Southern Sudan, via Cairo and Khartoum in the company of Prince Antal Eszterházy.
The second, and most significant, "The Unknown Sahara" described his explorations in the Libyan Desert between 1929 and 1934, and formed the foundation of later French and German versions.
The third book, "In Air, on Sand" (which is very rare, I have only seen one real copy in the library of the Geographical Museum near Budapest) contains more chapters on the early explorations and aviation feats, plus some chapters on the explorations in the Libyan Desert in 1935-36.
In 1936, Almasy published an abridged version of "The Unknown Sahara", "Recentes Explorations dans le Desert Libyque", focusing primarily on the discovery of "Zarzura", and the rock art sites, complete with a chapter on the more recent explorations in Cairo in French language. (This became the standard reference book on Almásy's discoveries in the scientific literature.)
dans le Desert Libyque
Some years later Almásy published "Unbekannte Sahara" in German, which was a shortened combined version of "The Unknown Sahara" and "In Air, on Sand", containing about 66% of the chapters of the two works. I have recently discovered, that an abridged paperback version containing only the 'Darb el Arbain' and 'Waddan' chapters was published by Brockhaus in 1943 titled "Die Strasse der Vierzig Tage".
In 1949 or 1950 a British intelligence officer found an excerpt from the 1942 diary of Almásy describing Operation Salaam through the Libyan Desert (when he transported two German spies, Eppler and Sandstede to Assiut from Jalo via Kufra and the Gilf Kebir behind enemy lines). This diary (the original of which is now lost) found its way to Ralph Bagnold, and survived in several slightly differing transcripts.
|Die Strasse der Vierzig Tage
Diary excerpts, 1942
While the writings of Almásy are well known in Hungary and the German speaking countries,
none of his original writings were available in English, despite all the fuss and publicity generated by the movie "The English Patient".
A new edition of "Unbekannte Sahara" was published in Vienna in 1997 as "Schwimmer in der Wüste", including the missing chapters from "The Unknown Sahara", but not those from "In Air, on Sand". It also included a re-translation of Almásy's wartime diary of Operation Salaam.
In 2002 Saul Kelly published the result of years of painstaking research in the British and German archives, revealing many previously unknown details on Almásy's wartime activities.
In 2002 John Bierman published the only available English language biography of Almásy, summing up everything available up to that date from Hungarian, German, Italian and other sources, but revealing no new information.
|Schwimmer in der Wüste
The Hunt for Zarzura
The Secret Life of
I have finally completed the full english translation of the original Hungarian version of "The Unknown Sahara" and "In Air...on Sand", complete with added paragraphs from "Recentes explorations..." and the english transcript of 1942 Operation Salaam diary.
The translations and transcript may be ordered online either in pdf format (online delivery) or on CD together with original photos.
Click here to read a sample (pdf) chapter from "The Unknown Sahara" (Alone in the Desert)