Book review: DIE ERSCHLIESUNG DER SAHARA DURCH MOTORFAHRZEUGE 1901-1936 ~ Werner Nother

pid449828DIE ERSCHLIESUNG DER SAHARA DURCH MOTORFAHRZEUGE 1901-1936
[Opening up the Sahara by Motor Vehicle, 1901-36]
Werner Nother (try amazon.de)

propcarI would not normally review German books here, even if some of the best material may be in that language, but hardcore Saharans may be interested in this huge  book, a breeze block three times the size of Sahara Overland.
Werner Nother is one of a handful of German-speaking uber Saharans known to me and a registered ergoholic. Among his many Saharan achievements are mapping every last lake and paleo-lake in the Ubari Sand Sea years before they appeared on the tourist trail (his Hilux is pictured on p.82 of Sahara Overland).

I heard it took him ten or twenty years to complete this massive book – a record of every pioneering expedition by motor car and bike trip into the Sahara in the first third of the last century. I can’t understand a word of it but the many archive photos and crystal clear maps are good enough to illustrate the advent of the automobile in the Sahara. Some of the early solutions to the problem of soft sand traction are ingenious – they cottoned on to giant caterpillar/belt drives pretty early, though the propeller cars look like they may have had pilot suction problems. And our strange friend Byron Prorok (see other reviews) is in here too.

Interestingly, one sees that all the main pistes as depicted on the Mich 741 and including the Libyan Desert were all established by the mid-30s. And yet took them another 70-odd years to finally seal the Sahara (followed by an eternity of maintenance…). The many maps also highlight places and routes that may have slipped from the contemporary Saharan radar, offering endless opportunities for historic trips ‘in the wheel tracks of’. I suspect this is a fascinating account of early motoring in the Sahara.