Robert Irwin

The Real Almasy was a Predatory Homosexual

The Hunt for Zerzura: The Lost Oasis and the Desert War


John Murray 288pp £ 19.99 order from our bookshop

Described on the dust jacket as ‘the true story behind The English Patient‘, The Hunt for Zerzura chronicles the achievements of a small group of men who explored the Egyptian and Libyan deserts in the 1920s and ’30s, the decades when the desert was being opened up by the car and the plane. Saul Kelly goes on to follow up these men’s careers and the use made of their surveys of the Sahara during the Second World War. He has diligently researched the operations of the Long Range Desert Group and those of the opposing Italian and German forces. He provide a very detailed account of the necessary planning, logistical back-up, placing of fuel dumps and so on, from the paper trail of modern warfare, as it has survived in the Public Record Office, the Imperial War Museum and elsewhere. The Zerzura Club, before the War, was composed of men who seem to have stepped out of the pages of The Boy’s Own Paper or Chums. Daring, resourceful and patriotic adventurers, they were perhaps the sort of people who needed a war to come into their own.

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • He weeps by the side of the ocean, He weeps on the top of the hill; He purchases pancakes and lotion, And chocolate… ,
    • 'Half-way through The Conquest of Water I felt as if I had been subjected to the literary equivalent of excessive c… ,
    • 'Volume five, then, but still no end in sight. Sandbrook is clearly enjoying himself so much he can’t bear the seri… ,
    • 'By the end of the book something so weighty, stylish and impressive has been built up that one feels far nearer to… ,
    • 'Her ensuing psychotic episode is described so convincingly ... that the reader will wonder if Dobrakovová did not… ,
    • 'The perspectives complement and contest one another, amounting to a glorious, atmospheric set of ventriloquisms.'… ,
    • RT : I reviewed The Testaments for . I will not be taking any questions at this time. ,