The Lost Oasis tells the true story behind The English Patient . An extraordinary episode in World War II, it describes the Zerzura Club, a group of desert explorers and adventurers who indulged in desert travel by early-model-motor cars and airplanes, and who searched for lost desert oases and ancient cities of vanished civilizations. In reality, they were mapping the desert for military reasons and espionage. The club's members came from countries that soon would be enemies: England and the Allied Forces v. Italy and Germany. When war erupted in 1939, Ralph Bagnold founded the British Long Range Desert Group to spy on and disrupt Rommel's advance on Cairo, while a fellow club member, Hungarian Count Almasy, succeeded in placing German spies there. Ultimately, the British prevailed. Saul Kelly's riveting history draws on interviews with survivors and previously unknown documentary material in England, Italy, Germany, Hungary, and Egypt. His book reads like a thriller - with one key difference: it's all true.