About Michael Benanav

Michael Benanav is an author and freelance photographer known for immersing in foreign cultures and bringing compelling images and stories back from distant places. 

Michael's first book, Men Of Salt: Crossing the Sahara on the Caravan of White Gold, tells the story of his 1000-mile journey with one of the world's last working camel caravans, hauling salt along ancient trade routes from the heart of the desert to the fabled city of Timbuktu. The book was nominated by Barnes & Noble for their Discover prize and was named a Best Book for Young Adults by the American Library Association (even though it was written for fully-grown adults). Michael's second book, The Luck of the Jews: An Incredible Story of Loss, Love, & Survival in the Holocaust, (originally published as Joshua & Isadora), traces the astonishing wartime experiences that brought his paternal grandparents together on the deck of a refugee boat sailing from Bucharest to Istanbul at the end of 1944. A profoundly personal tale of survival, this book also highlights lesser-known aspects of the Holocaust, including the so-called "Forgotten Cemetery" of Transnistria and the Hungarian Army's Jewish slave labor corps. His third book, the recently released Himalaya Bound: An American's Journey with Nomads in North India, follows a family of nomadic water buffalo herders on their annual spring migration into Indian Himalayas - offering an intimate glimpse into a rarely-seen way of life, while exploring the challenges faced by this endangered tribe.

In addition to his books, Michael writes and/or shoots for The New York Times, Lonely Planet, The Christian Science Monitor Magazine, Geographical, Afar, CNN.com, Wend, and Hand/Eye, among others. His photographic work has been selected to appear in the National Geographic book, Rarely Seen: Images of the Extraordinary. NGO's including the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), World Initiative for Sustainable Pastoralism (WISP), International Land Coalition (ILC), Save Tibet, The UN Foundation, World Alliance of Mobile Indigenous Pastoralists (WAMIP), Society for the Promotion of Himalayan Indigenous Activities (India), Maldhari Rural Action Group (India), The Swallows (Sweden), and others have used his photographs; numerous middle and high schools have brought him into their classrooms to give slide shows about the traditional Saharan salt trade and the endangered ways of nomads in north India. He is also the founder of the educational non-profit organization Traditional Cultures Project

When not in some remote nook of the planet, Michael can often be found hiking in the hills behind his home in northern New Mexico. He's available for photographic and writing assignments worldwide.