Ships in the Desert is a collection of linked essays that seamlessly incorporates elements of memoir, travel writing, and literary journalism in a series of vivid vignettes that are both intimate and wide-ranging.
In these essays, 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 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 human-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 cultural intolerance, religious bigotry, environmental degradation, and how a battle over water rights led to a catastrophe that is now being repeated around the world.