‘Mystery broods over North Africa, and the mystery draws you in, and makes you long to dig deep, whereas yet the surface has hardly been disturbed.’ The authors of this book were compelled by the mysterious lands of North Africa, leading them to reside in various cities across the vastness.
The principal ingredients of North Africa – ‘sand that seems to stretch out into infinity…the ruins of three great civilisations … and the glory of the golden haze over the desert’ – can be felt on every page as the writers describe every observation with intricacy. The past plays a great part in this narrative, from the history of Carthage; the Punic Wars (264 BC to 146 BC); the Roman Empire in North Africa when systematic irrigation turned the continent into ‘the Granary of Rome’ – to the growth of Christianity; invasions of Vandals and Byzantines and finally, the spread of Islam.
The reader is presented with a number of great cities: – Kairouan and its beautiful mosques; Algiers – ‘the lair of the Corsairs’; and Bedouin camps where people live in the harshness of the desert. Perhaps most fascinating of all are the cave-dwellings of Matmatas, which have been unchanged for centuries.
‘Twixt Sand and Sea is admirably complemented by numerous black and white photographs, reproduced from the original edition.