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Skeletons on the Zahara by Dean King

Skeletons on the Zahara by Dean King
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Synopsis

Everywhere hailed as a masterpiece of historical adventure, this enthralling narrative recounts the experiences of twelve American sailors who were shipwrecked off the coast of Africa in 1815, captured by desert nomads, sold into slavery, and subjected to a hellish two-month journey through the bone-dry heart of the Sahara.

The ordeal of these men – who found themselves tested by barbarism, murder, starvation, death, dehydration, and hostile tribes that roamed the desert on camelback – is made indelibly vivid in this gripping account of courage, brotherhood, and survival.

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Review

Skeletons on the Zahara: A True Story of Survival by Dean King

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Really insightful. I read it as an audiobook, narrated by Michael Prichard. It was similar to a James Michener book, and at times even sounded like Larry McKeever, which I really quite enjoyed. I’d recommend it to anyone, would be great for historical student presentation, overall good discussion piece.

The Story
I learned so much about the harsh sandy desert lifestyle, travel accommodations, and the tragic journey of the slaves.

I found the descriptions of camels fascinating, from the riding posture and technique, uses for camel’s milk, their amazing resiliency in the desert. Also learned much about the goats and argon oil.

Very well researched.

The Writing
Suspenseful, linear, straightforward in description, while also this ease and elegance in how it was presented, which I enjoyed.

I think this summed it well, a passage from Adams: On his first night of freedom, Riley broke down. He was delirious with symptoms of what we now know as post-traumatic stress disorder. This was not an unusual reaction for sailors recently emancipated from the desert, who tended to be “abject, servile, and brutified,” according to British vice-consul Joseph Dupuis. “If they have been any considerable time in slavery, ” he elaborated, “they appear lost to reason and feeling, their spirits broken, and their faculties sunk in a species of stupor which I am unable adequately to describe.”

I look forward to reading more about this topic and others from the author.

View all my reviews

Have you read this one? What was most surprising for you?

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