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Skeletons on the Zahara: A True Story of…

Skeletons on the Zahara: A True Story of Survival (2004)

by Dean King

Other authors: Fearn Cutler de Vicq (Designer), G. W. Ward (Maps)

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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8542416,732 (4.02)40
"On a calm May morning in 1815, Captain James Riley and the crew of the Commerce left port in Connecticut for an ordinary trading voyage. They could never have imagined what awaited them." "Their nightmare began with a dreadful shipwreck off the coast of Africa, a hair-raising confrontation with hostile native tribesmen within hours of being washed ashore, and a hellish confinement in a rickety longboat as they tried, without success, to escape the fearsome coast. Eventually captured by desert nomads and sold into slavery, Riley and his men were dragged along on an insane journey through the bone-dry heart of the Sahara - a region unknown to Westerners. Along the way the Americans would encounter everything that could possibly test them: barbarism, murder, starvation, plagues of locusts, death, sandstorms that lasted for days, dehydration, and hostile tribes that roamed the desert on armies of camels. They would discover ancient cities and secret oases. They would also discover a surprising bond between a Muslim trader and an American sea captain, men who began as strangers, were forced to become allies in order to survive, and, in the tempering heat of the desert, became friends - even as the captain hatched a daring betrayal in order to save his men."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)
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    The Pirate Coast by Richard Zacks (bookwoman247)
    bookwoman247: These are similar historical tales of Americans taken as slaves in Africa during the 19th Century and of survival.

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» See also 40 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 24 (next | show all)
Listened to this as audiobook, which I think impacted my enjoyment of the book. I had searched my library's Overdrive system for this book for a few years, and I was thrilled that my searches finally paid off. Unfortunately the book in audio form just wasn't enjoyable. I think the reader is the cause for it. He has a great voice, but it's just too old and harsh to listen to for an extended period of time. I can only imagine I would have enjoyed the text of this book more. ( )
  rdwhitenack | Aug 1, 2017 |
Review: Skeletons On The Zahara by Dean King. 06/10/2017

This is a great book at a slow pace but I couldn’t put it down. It was a true story of survival. Reading through the reviews I found out that there are a few other Authors who wrote about this story. I don’t understand that I never came across this story before. It is an amazing and heartwarming book for all survivors. Sometimes I complain that life is not fair however, after reading this book I have no complaints….

The journey through the desert could have been shorter but I was too captivated with what these men went through. I was on the edge of my seat keeping track of each person, not wanting to miss their finality because each person deserved to be mentioned and remembered….

In 1812 The US Commerce, Captain James Riley’s and crew shipwrecked off the coast of the African Sahara desert where they were soon captured by savage Arabs. In that region of Africa was where Arab groups controlled their own areas, even if it meant battles between other Arab groups. One group might have power over another and that was how some of the crew members got separated and for being Christians they were tortured and treated as infidel non humans. Some of the Arabs might have been a little lenient towards their captures but not by much. They stripped the men from their clothing and enslaved them in near nakedness. They planned to sell the men as slaves or just for ransom.

As their journey through the horrid desert proceeded the men walked and sometimes rode camel back which after a while was torture for them because the camel’s skin and brisk hair made the men’s skin raw and bleeding. As time went on they were starved and given no water for days until they were severely beyond life but their survival of becoming free held them together. The crew of three men and the Captain were with one group of Arabs while the other crew members were with others but in the vastness of the desert they would meet up with one or two of the crew members for a few hours. The Captain kept trying to persuade their Arab group to buy the other crew members but that only irritated the Arabs more.

Captain Riley and his crew became walking skeletons with sever medical problems as one of his men did weight over two hundred pound and plummeted down to ninety pounds, another was almost blind. Dean King wrote the ending to these men’s story, also more information of what happened to them. There were also maps and photos throughout the book that helped move the story to the end…. ( )
1 vote Juan-banjo | Jun 12, 2017 |
5388. Skeletons on the Zahara A True Story of Survival, by Dean King (read 3 July 2016) This 2004 book is the result of the author discovering an 1817 book by James Riley, captain of the brig Commerce which left Connecticut in May 1815 and after stopping at New Orleans sailed to Gibralter and then was wrecked of the coast of Africa in August 1815. The officers and crew--12 people in all, including a 15-year-old cabin boy who was the nephew of the captain, managed to get ashore but were captured by mostly ill-behaving natives. The account of the terrible time they had in regard to food, water, and mistreatment is set out in gruesome detail. One must admire the excellent job the captain did in seeing to it that at least some of the crew survived and were ransomed In fact, since one is reading the book one knows that some survived--and this makes reading less dolorous. ( )
1 vote Schmerguls | Jul 3, 2016 |
True life capture and survival. Must have been really hard to survive this. ( )
  ndpmcIntosh | Mar 21, 2016 |
This was an amazing story of Captain James Riley and his crew getting shipwrecked then getting taken into slavery. They spent 2 months going across the desert to get bought back into freedom. The crew was ravaged. Riley went from a man of 240 pounds to a man of 90. ( )
1 vote JWarrenBenton | Jan 4, 2016 |
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» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Dean Kingprimary authorall editionscalculated
de Vicq, Fearn CutlerDesignersecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Ward, G. W.Mapssecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Prichard, MichaelNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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The crew of the Commerce seem to have been designed to suffer themselves, that the world, through them, might learn.
--Archibald Robbins, A Journey Comprising an Account of the Loss of the Brig Commerce
For Jessica
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In his five crossings of the Sahara, Sidi Hamet had never seen worse conditions.
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