Deserts make up a third of the planet's land surface, but if you picture a desert, what comes to mind? A wasteland? A drought? A place devoid of all life forms? Deserts are remarkable places. Typified by drought and extremes of temperature, they can be harsh and hostile; but many deserts are also spectacularly beautiful, and on occasion teem with life. Nick Middleton explores how each desert is unique: through fantastic life forms, extraordinary scenery, and ingenious human adaptations. He demonstrates a desert's immense natural beauty, its rich biodiversity, and uncovers a long history of successful human occupation. This Very Short Introduction tells you everything you ever wanted to know about these extraordinary places and captures their importance in the working of our planet. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.