Our guest is the award-winning British author and journalist William Atkins, whose new book -- a dense and engrossing blend of history, memoir, geography, and travel writing -- is called "The Immeasurable World: Journeys in Desert Places." It's a work that, per The Wall Street Journal, "courts comparisons with the capaciously learned nature writing of John McPhee. But there's also an open-ended spiritual quest to Mr. Atkins's sojourns, which follow closely in the footsteps of religious and literary forerunners who were lured by the rewards of extreme renunciation." As was furthermore noted of this well-rendered volume in a starred review in Booklist: "Atkins's richly written account of his travels across deserts around the world brings Bruce Chatwin to mind, along with others who, like Atkins, have explored and have anaffinity for the solitude and vast expanse of the Earth's empty places, such as Wallace Stegner, Gretel Ehrlich, and Sara Wheeler. Like theirs, Atkins' prose is gorgeous.... He also evokes the spirit of earlier desert travelers, including St. Anthony, T.E. Lawrence, and John Wesley Powell.... Atkins' book of journeys will be a modern-day classic."