The western Sahara is a baking hot and desolate place, home only to nomads and their camels, and to locusts, snails and thorny scrub. On 28 August 1815 the US brig Commerce was dashed against Mauritania's Cape Bojador and lost, although through bravery and quick thinking the ship's captain, James Riley, managed to lead all of his crew to safety. What followed was an extraordinary and desperate battle for survival in the face of human hostility, hunger, dehydration and despair, as the crew were captured, robbed and enslaved. They were reduced to drinking urine (their own and the camels'), flayed by the sun, crippled by walking miles across burning stones and sand. Over time James Riley and Sidi Hamet, slave and captor, came to recognise in each other men worthy of respect...Soon the ransom not only of Riley himself but also of a handful of his crew suddenly seemed possible. But Sidi Hamet had enemies of his own, and to reach safety the sailors had to overcome not only the desert but also the greed and anger of those who would keep them in captivity. Skeletons on the Zahara is a thrilling true story of shipwreck, adventure, and the limits of man.
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Some stories are so enthralling they deserve to be retold generation after generation. The wreck in 1815 of the Connecticut merchant ship, Commerce, and the subsequent ordeal of its crew in the Sahara Desert, is one such story. With Skeletons on the Zahara: A True Story of Survival, Dean King refreshes the popular nineteenth-century narrative once read and admired by Henry David Thoreau, James Fenimore Cooper, and Abraham Lincoln. King’s version, which actually draws from two separate first person accounts of the Commerce's crew, offers a page-turning blend of science, history, and classic adventure. The book begins with a seeming false start: tracing the lives of two merchants from North Africa, Seid and Sidi Hamet, who lose their fortunes—and almost their lives—when their massive camel caravan arrives at a desiccated oasis. King then jumps to the voyage of the Commerce under Captain Riley and his 11-man crew. After stops in New Orleans and Gibraltar, the ship falls off course en route to the Canary Islands and ultimately wrecks at the infamous Cape Bojador. After the men survive the first predations of the nomads on the shore, they meander along the coast looking for a way inland as their supplies dwindle. They subsist for days by drinking their own urine. Eventually, to their horror, they discover that they have come aground on the edge of the Sahara Desert. They submit themselves, with hopes of getting food and water, as slaves to the Oulad Bou Sbaa. After days of abuse, they are bought by Hamet, who, after his own experiences with his failed caravan (described at the novels opening), sympathizes with the plight of the crew. Together, they set off on a hellish journey across the desert to collect a bounty for Hamet in Swearah. King embellishes this compelling narrative throughout with scientific and historical material explaining the origins of the camel, the market for English and American slaves, and the stages of dehydration. He also humanizes the Sahrawi with background on the tribes and on the lives of Hamet and Seid. This material, doled out in sufficient amounts to enrich the story without derailing it makes Skeletons on the Zahara a perfectly entertaining bit of history that feels like a guilty pleasure. --Patrick O'KelleyAbout the Author:
Dean King is the author of a biography of Patrick O'Brian, 'a model of how these things should be' - Telegraph 'Books of the Year', as well as other historical adventure novels. He lives in Richmond, Virginia with his wife and two daughters.
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Book Description Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # 3343856-n
Book Description 2005. Paperback. Book Condition: New. 130mm x 198mm x 24mm. Paperback. In the tradition of In the Heart of the Sea and A Perfect Storm, a gripping story of survival in the 19th century Sahara. The western Sahara is a baking hot and desolate place, home only t.Shipping may be from multiple locations in the US or from the UK, depending on stock availability. 368 pages. 0.261. Bookseller Inventory # 9780099435921
Book Description Random House, 2005. PAP. Book Condition: New. New Book. Shipped from UK in 4 to 14 days. Established seller since 2000. Bookseller Inventory # F4-9780099435921
Book Description Arrow, 2005. Paperback. Book Condition: New. New and in stock. Book. Bookseller Inventory # 0099435926
Book Description Arrow, 2005. Paperback. Book Condition: Brand New. 368 pages. 7.80x5.12x0.94 inches. In Stock. Bookseller Inventory # zk0099435926
Book Description 2005. Paperback. Book Condition: New. 130mm x 198mm x 24mm. Paperback. In the tradition of In the Heart of the Sea and A Perfect Storm, a gripping story of survival in the 19th century Sahara. The western Sahara is a baking hot and desolate place.Shipping may be from our Sydney, NSW warehouse or from our UK or US warehouse, depending on stock availability. 368 pages. 0.261. Bookseller Inventory # 9780099435921
Book Description Arrow Books. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # P110099435926