In 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.
From the cold waters of the Atlantic to the searing Saharan sands, Skeletons on the Zahara is a spectacular odyssey through the extremes. Destined to become a classic among adventure narratives, Dean King's masterpiece is an unforgettable tale of survival, courage, and brotherhood.
Booklist - Gilbert Taylor
The dramatic incidents are supported with relevant details, such as the way the body reacts to dehydration and sun poisoning. Perhaps the story's most intriguing element is the mutual understanding that developed between Riley and his eventual master, Sidi Hamet....This is both a forcefully visceral and culturally astute account.
Reader and protagonist alike are challenged by new ways of understanding culture clash, slavery and the place of Islam in the social fabric of desert-dwelling peoples.
A jaw-dropping story kept on edge, along with the reader exquisite and excruciating screw-turning.
David L. Robbins, author of Last Citadel
A narrative of chilling miseries and harrowing adventure, Dean King's telling leaves nothing unexplored in the slavery and rescue of American sailors on the blasted sands of the Sahara. The unbelievable is made believable, and the incomprehensible as glaring as the desert sun.
Dr. D. J. Ratcliffe, Emeritus Reader, History Department, University of Durham
A grand book.
Nathaniel Philbrick, author of In the Heart of the Sea and Sea of Glory
Dean King has brought to life one of the great, true-life adventure stories--a riveting tale of suffering and redemption.
Doug Stanton, author of In Harm's Way
Skeletons of the Zahara is an amazing, mind-boggling story of courage and endurance, rivaling Shackleton's drama and surpassing Krakauer's climb on Everest. This is history boldly told with a novelist's eye for the scorching detail.
Charles Slack, author of Noble Obsession
This incredibly true tale exposes its band of shipwrecked Americans to the most extreme tests of cruelty, savagery, and their own will to survive. Best of all, though, are the sweet notes of nobility and kindness that transcend culture, language, and the burning sands.
Recent Reader Reviews
Rated of 5
by Walter Saunders Heartwarming and Encouraging When I first started reading this book I found it a little slow. Though as I read through it I discovered a story full of challenges of character as well as encouraging and eye opening moments. After reading completely through this book I can see... Read More
Rated of 5
by Megan Don't care Ok, so my class read this book & we all hated it. it was very boring & I wouldn't recommend it to anyone.
Rated of 5
by rokzas boring and dry About as dry for me as the Zahara itself. Not an attention grabber with very little that made me want to continue at all
Rated of 5
by Mathew Benton
I would like to say that I have had a form of schizophrinia since 1988 called rapid thought and it knocked out my attention span. Ever since then all I could do is read. But in the last 17 years I have only read one other non-fiction book that has... Read More
In this stylish, haunting novel, journalist and novelist Lawrence Osborne explores the reverberations of a random accident on the lives of Moroccan Muslims and Western visitors who converge on a luxurious desert villa for a decadent weekend-long party.
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