Prof. Diana K. Davis, a geographer and veterinarian in the History Department at the University of California, Davis, has written an intriguing account about deserts and dry lands, which cover 40-45% of the earth and support about 38% of its population. Deserts come in several varieties: 1) hot and dry, 2) foggy, 3) cold/frigid, and 4) marine; Davis examines the torrid, arid ones. These are, in fact, ecologically dynamic zones due to quantities and variability of rainfall.

Davis relies on her own fieldwork among peoples in southern Morocco, southeastern Afghanistan, and Baluchistan; she also draws more broadly on extensive publications that focus on other desert and dry land regions and their...

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