Ships in the Desert
Essays by Jeff Fearnside
Santa Fe Writers Project Books, August 2022
In this linked essay collection, 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 faraway 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 man-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 religious bigotry, cultural intolerance, environmental degradation, and how a battle over water rights led to a catastrophe that is now being repeated around the world.