A spectacular true odyssey through the extremes of the Sahara Desert in the early 19th century. Reader and protagonist alike are challenged into new ways of understanding culture clash, slavery and the place of Islam in the social fabric of desert-dwelling peoples.
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.
In his five crossings of the Sahara, Sidi Hamet had never seen worse conditions. Forty days out of Wednoon, the sand had turned as fine as house dust and as hot as coals of fire. With their heavy loads, the camels labored up shifting dunes in spine-buckling bursts, then stumbled down the other side. With each step, the dromedaries thrust in to their knees, their wide, padded feet, designed by Allah to skim over sand, sinking like stones.
Despite his experience on the desert, Hamet had had no say in choosing this, the most direct route to Tombuctoo, about twelve-hundred miles in all, one that would take many months to travel. Having dropped south from Wednoon, then east around the Anti-Atlas Mountains in six days, the caravan of a thousand men had halted on the edge of the desert, collecting many tons of the date-size argan fruit. The men had extracted oil from the argan pits to fortify their food. They had roasted the meat of the pits, rolled it into balls, and ...
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