Summary and Preview
"Sabaku no tami" / "People of the Desert" is a manga which Miyazaki wrote for Shounen Shoujo Shimbun (少年少女新聞), a newspaper targeted for children, under the pseudonym AKITSU Saburo. It is more of a graphic novel than a manga, since most of the text are written outside of the frames and there are very few dialogue bubbles (though towards the end of the story, it moved closer to the traditional manga style).
The story is surprisingly dark considering that this was written for children. It deals with the devastation of war, betrayal, and the ugliness of the human nature under desperate situations, including deaths of several characters. One can see the influence of Osamu Tezuka in the art style of this manga (as in most of the manga written in this time), but you can also clearly see the style and motives you find in Miyazaki's later works such as "Nausicaä". In a sense, this is a prototype of "Nausicaä".