In Desert and Wilderness by Henryk Sienkiewicz translated from the Polish by Max Anthony Drezmal (Rare Book Collection)
The renowned Polish novelist, inspired by his travels through Africa, gives us a fascinating book recounting adventures and experiences of two children during an escape from Khartoum after the death of General Gordon, and their flight through Africa to the Indian Ocean. The children’s adventures in the Egyptian desert and African wilderness at the time of the Mahdi (1848 - 1885) also contain a vast quantity of information about the plant and animal life of the African swamps and jungle.
Although written around a hundred years ago, this book covers "current" issues such as radical Islam, terrorist kidnappings, war in the middle east, and genocide in Sudan.
It's true that Sienkiewicz originally concieved of this as a children's story, but it obviously grew into something well beyond that. His hero has a fully developed moral character and that takes an adult reader to appreciate. In addition as in most of Sienkiewicz's books, the hero presents the national spirit of Poland, surmounting all obstacles and surviving all dangers and threats to emerge victorious at some point in the future. Unlike most other nationalistic novels, Sienkiewicz communicates his national pride without denigrating other groups of people.
The theme is uplifting and powerful, and it's subtle execution would instantly qualify "In Desert and Wilderness" as a classic. However, Sienkiewicz's masterful plot is so tightly written that the book becomes a page turner as well. You just ENJOY reading it! The strength of the theme and the tightly written plot combine to create a flawless one-two punch few writers can manage.